Department of Health and Human Services
Office of the Secretary
200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 600E
Washington, D.C. 20201
RE: Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs; RIN: 0991-ZA49
Submitted electronically via www.regulations.gov
To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for your efforts to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs for Americans. I am writing on behalf of the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, an applied medical research organization based in San Diego and part of West Health, which also includes the Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego, as well as the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Our organizations work together toward a shared mission dedicated to enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence.
As advocates for seniors in this country, we have long been concerned about the rising cost of medicines. While Medicare Part D provides needed prescription drug coverage for millions of beneficiaries, the out-of-pocket requirements, combined with the ever-rising list prices of drugs, put needed medications out of reach for many older Americans. An effective way to address this escalating crisis is to allow Medicare to directly negotiate its own prices. As the single largest payer for healthcare in the U.S., Medicare is the gateway to a vast marketplace including 42 million seniors and people with disabilities covered under Part D — who happen to be the highest-volume consumers of pharmaceuticals. Although the President supported this policy on the campaign trail, it was not included in the “American Patients First” blueprint.
Our founder, Gary West, authored an op-ed in The San Diego Union-Tribune on June 15, highlighting these concerns. It is enclosed for your review.
We urge this Administration to take bold action and fulfill the President’s campaign promise to empower Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Timothy A. Lash