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Minority of Senate Blocks Vote to Allow Medicare to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices

AARP: “Senators should know this issue is not going away. No amount of campaign money can trump the will of 90 percent of Americans.”

AARP released the following statement today, disappointed by a minority of the U.S. Senate that refuses to allow a vote on legislation that could help lower prescription drug costs for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.

Despite the support of a majority of the U.S. Senate, and nearly 90 percent of voting-age Americans, S.3, The Medicare Fair Prescription Drug Price Act of 2007, was blocked from coming up for a vote on the Senate floor today.

"Allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices is common sense, and could have led to more affordable drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and lower costs for all taxpayers," said David Sloane, AARP Director of Government Relations. "Instead, a minority of the Senate decided to block consideration of a bill that has the support of the vast majority of their constituents. Given the overwhelming support for giving Medicare the power to negotiate, the will of the people will eventually be heard."

Sloane continued, "Pharmaceutical manufacturers have given more than $20 million in campaign contributions for the last two cycles alone. They followed that up over the last few months with misleading polling and disinformation aimed at scaring older Americans into preserving the exorbitant profits that pharmaceutical companies make on brand name drugs. Senators should know this issue is not going away. No amount of campaign money can trump the will of 90 percent of Americans."

Last week, AARP alerted Senators that the association is recording key votes on S. 3 and will be informing its members of how their Senators voted.

Despite the outcome in the Senate today, prescription drug affordability remains a high priority for AARP and its members. The association will continue to fight to make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans. While millions of older Americans and persons with disabilities have been helped by Medicare part D drug plans, more should be done to put downward pressure on drug costs. AARP will continue to support legislation that would allow Americans to safely and legally import lower-priced prescription drugs from abroad, and legislation to help bring generic drugs to market sooner, including generic versions of biologic therapies. AARP is also working to pass legislation that would reduce the asset test that prevents low-income people from qualifying for extra help under the Medicare drug program.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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