Sen. Bill Nelson said Tuesday there is growing support for a measure in President Obama’s budget that would reduce the amount Medicare pays drug companies for prescriptions provided to millions of seniors who also qualify for the Medicaid program for the poor.
Mr. Nelson, Florida Democrat, said 19 senators have filed a bill that bars drug companies from charging higher prices to so-called “dual eligible” enrollees who get Medicaid because they have low incomes, but also qualify for Medicare because they are 65 or older or disabled.
“This is about saving taxpayers a lot of money by stopping what’s really an unnecessary corporate windfall,” Mr. Nelson said. “As we’re looking for ways to reduce the deficit, this would save us about $14 billion a year.”
Mr. Nelson is spearheading the measure alongside Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs both the Senate Commerce Committee and of the Senate Finance subcommittee on health issues. Mr. Rockefeller is the lead sponsor of the bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, also voiced support in recent weeks for lowering drug prices under Medicare so they are in line with those under Medicaid.
The Democratic lawmakers got a boost from the nation’s leading advocacy group for seniors, AARP, which endorsed the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2013 in a letter to Mr. Rockefeller and Rep. Henry Waxman, California Democrat.
“AARP understands the important need to spend Medicare dollars wisely and to reduce the nation’s spending on health care generally,” the letter said. “However, AARP wants to ensure that Congress does not simply ask seniors to pay more or enact harmful cuts to Medicare benefits.”