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Nevada's experiment with early caucusing is underway until tomorrow. Some candidates plus some Nevada Culinary Workers Union Local 226 members oppose Medicare for All, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defends it, with a study just published making the case for it.

Minnesota Poll: Allow Medicare to Bargain for Better Drug Prices

February 28, 2007


A new survey finds over 90 percent of Minnesotans want to allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. AARP Minnesota spokeswoman Michele Kimball says there is strong support for allowing the federal Medicare program to deal with drug companies for discount prices.

"The typical senior takes four prescriptions a day. And, drug prices are still really too high. What this results in is eroding savings, choices that people have to make between food, paying the electric bill, higher rents, or their prescription drugs. And, what we find is that many people either forgo taking their prescriptions on time or they cut their pills in half. It really is a problem, especially for the lower-income senior."

Kimball believes using the leverage of 43 million Medicare consumers nationally would help lower drug prices and strengthen the plan's benefits. But, Congress has prohibited bulk negotiations in the past, and the Bush administration is against it, saying it might actually increase prices. They believe the plan would short-change drug companies and lead to cuts in research and development. But advocates say negotiating prices would be an incentive for them to try harder to compete for Medicare dollars. Kimball thinks the change would help government better represent those on Medicare.

"It will allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with prescription drug companies for lower bulk rates for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. Very much the same way that the Veterans Administration negotiates with prescription drug companies for lower rates."

A bill for drug price negotiations, HR4, has passed the House. The pending Senate bill is SF3.

You can see the AARP poll results online at www.aarp.org/mn.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN