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A. J. (Jim) Norby

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Retiree Leader Concerned About Direction Of 

Prescription Drug Price Negotiations Bill


Bill Doesn’t Make Negotiations Mandatory In Effort To Lower Medicare Prescription Drug Prices
 

(WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2007) The president of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) expressed disappointment Friday that the U.S. Senate's Finance Committee approved a bill that does not mandate negotiations for lower prescription drug prices for Medicare participants.

 "They have given us the sleeves out of their vests," said A. J. (Jim) Norby, NRLN president.  “Congress should be hearing the voices of desperate retirees, and not those of highly-paid lobbyists.";

Norby is referring to Thursday night's Finance Committee action that would repeal the part of the 2003 Medicare law that prohibits negotiations, but the drug benefit would still be delivered by private entities, and the government could not establish a price list or a uniform list of covered drugs.

Norby said the some two million retirees that the NRLN speaks for want a version of the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiations Act of 2007 that makes negotiations mandatory and not simply discretionary.

 "While Medicare Part D has provided savings for tens of millions of Medicare beneficiaries, the price of many prescription drugs are still far too costly and are continuing to increase at an alarming rate," Norby said.  "This was understood by the 255 House members, including 24 Republicans, who passed a bill that requires the government to negotiate for lower Medicare drug prices."  

On January 12, 2007, the House approved H.R. 4 that would require the government to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for lower prices on behalf of the private insurers that run the Medicare drug benefit program.

"Senators will have another chance to get it right when the bill goes to the floor of the Senate," Norby said.  "We hope that the bill will be amended with the mandatory negotiation requirement and the majority of the Senators will act in the best interests of older Americans rather than the vested interest of the pharmaceutical companies who are against lowering prices." 

Based in Washington, D.C., the NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in the private and public sector.  The NRLN represents a non-partisan, grass roots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of some two million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and healthcare benefits.  For more information, visit the NRLN Web site at www.nrln.org.

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