Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and 20 of her colleagues introduced legislation to boost Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices and lower prescription drug costs for consumers. The Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act, which would give the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) additional authority to negotiate prices for drugs covered under Medicare Part D.
This legislation builds on the progress made by the Inflation Reduction Act, which empowered Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time, unleashing the power of Medicare’s 50 million seniors to help lower drug prices for all Americans. Specifically, the SMART Prices Act lowers drug prices through negotiation one year earlier than under current law, and increasing the number of drugs that HHS can negotiate starting in 2028.
“Nevadans deserve affordable access to the medications they need, and I’m fighting to lower the costs of their prescription drugs,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Our SMART Prices Act will strengthen the Inflation Reduction Act we passed into law by expanding and accelerating Medicare’s drug price negotiation powers to ensure seniors can get a better deal and lower drug prices while saving our government billions of dollars to combat inflation.”
“Last year, we took significant steps towards bringing down prescription costs when provisions based on my bill to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices were signed into law. But there’s still more we can do to build on this progress,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By strengthening Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices, our legislation will lower prescription costs on even more drugs and save taxpayers money. I’ll keep working to ensure all Americans can reliably access the affordable, life-saving medications they need.”
The SMART Prices Act would also allow prescription drugs and biologics to be eligible for negotiation five years after its been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The bill would also increase the overall amount by which Medicare can lower prices through negotiation.
The SMART Prices Act is cosponsored by Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The legislation is endorsed by the Center for American Progress, Families USA, Lower Drug Prices Now, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Patients For Affordable Drugs, Protect Our Care, and Public Citizen.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a champion of affordable, quality health care, including mental and behavioral care. Last month, Cortez Masto and Klobuchar introduced the Lower Drug Costs for Families Act, legislation to hold Big Pharma accountable and penalize drug companies for raising prescription drug prices faster than the rate of inflation. She has pushed pharmacy benefit managers to help lower prescription drug costs. She passed legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and cap the cost of insulin at $35-a-month for Medicare recipients through the Inflation Reduction Act. To lower health care costs for all Nevadans, Cortez Masto worked to expand health care subsidies for individuals and families getting health care through the exchange. She recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide patients with transparent and timely access to prescription medications and treatments.