I am deeply concerned with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs in the United States. While America is at the forefront of medical research and innovation, far too many people cannot afford their medication. Nationwide, prescription drug expenditures comprise nearly 10 percent of all health care costs, and prescription drug spending is growing faster than any other area of health care spending. This is all while one in four Americans cannot afford to pay for their prescription medications. There are various factors driving the increase in costs, including new and expensive specialty drug therapies that have recently come on the market, as well as bad actors in the pharmaceutical industry who have exploited the health care market to engage in unconscionable price hikes.
One way to help guarantee people can afford their medications is to ensure everyone has high-quality, comprehensive insurance that covers prescription drugs at a fair price. That is why I proudly support the Affordable Care Act, which added a requirement that insurance plans must cover prescriptions and expanded coverage for millions through the exchanges and Medicaid.
Another proposal to help bring prices down is to enhance competition by getting more drugs to market, which is why I support the Food and Drug Administration's efforts to safely approve drug applications in a more timely manner.
I also believe that the federal government should be able to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers—something that is currently prohibited under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. That is why I introduced the Choose Medicare Act, which would allow the government to negotiate cheaper drug prices. At a time when drug companies are making record profits, we should be empowering the government to make sure that taxpayers and seniors aren't bearing the brunt of price hikes.
Finally, I have supported budgetary amendments that would allow for the importation of drugs from Canada. Although I support drug importation (while ensuring foreign drugs meet American safety standards), this is not a long-term solution. The Senate should take steps to change the incentives that put company profits over patient access.