Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Senate Democrats’ legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
From one corner of the country to the other, at every pharmacy counter and doctor’s office and grocery store and kitchen table, the issue that remains front of mind for American families is the cost of living.
While finally we are beginning to see relief as some gas prices are falling, inflation undeniably continues to strain families not just in America, but around the world.
And in one crucial area of life, high costs are simply unsustainable: the cost of health care and prescription drugs. The nexus of the high cost and the necessity of these drugs to keep us healthy—and keep us living—is a pincher that pinches so many Americans in a very harmful way.
But this week, Senate Democrats will formally present our case to the parliamentarian on a number of long-sought reforms to our nation’s health care system that will lower costs for tens of millions of Americans.
Under our proposals, for the first time ever we will empower Medicare to negotiate prices of prescription drug costs in Parts B and D.
We will cap out-of-pocket expenses for Part D prescription drugs at $2,000 a year, giving millions of Americans – many of whom have serious health problems and need these drugs – the support they desperately need so they can afford these drugs – $2000 a year. The days of seniors paying tens of thousands of dollars per year – or foregoing medicine altogether – will soon be over.
And we will prevent health care premiums from spiking for tens of millions of people.
In addition, there's an inflation rider, so that once the company announces the price of a new drug, they can't just double it and double it and double it year after year, even after they have recouped their investment in the bill.
Lowering costs of prescription drugs.
Capping out-of-pocket expenses.
Keeping premiums low.
These are the top priorities for the American people. Ask any American on the street and it is a near guarantee they will agree rising drug costs is a serious problem.
So we have to address the issue head on.
Now of course, Democrats will keep working on other major challenges that face our nation. Our work on climate change is not done—we are going to work with President Biden’s Administration to fight climate change and protect our planet for the next generation. This is an existential threat to the globe and we are going to keep fighting.
So in the coming weeks, our caucus is going to be exceedingly busy as we finalize a reconciliation bill that can pass with the full support of our caucus.
We still have a lot of work to do, and nobody says it is going to be simple or easy. But lowering the costs of health care and prescription drugs will make an enormous difference in the lives of the American people.
Let’s get it done and give Americans a much-needed and long-awaited break.