On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., spoke on the Senate floor on his America First Drug Pricing Plan to address the soaring costs of prescription drugs by promoting transparency and preventing drug companies from forcing American consumers to subsidize low drug prices in foreign countries. His speech was as follows:
As is now obvious to everyone, Obamacare made healthcare even more expensive. Premiums are up. Copays are up. Deductibles are way up.
Obamacare has been a disaster, and even the Democrats are admitting it. They want Medicare-for-All, which would ruin the Medicare system and throw 150 million people off the private insurance they like.
That would be a disaster. But there is something we can do and must do right now to help American families – we must lower prescription drug costs.
This is very personal for me. I grew up in a family without healthcare. My mom struggled to find care for my brother who had a serious disease. Eventually she found a charity hospital four hours away for his treatment.
I remember asking my mom how much lower drug costs would have to be for her to consider changing pharmacies. Without missing a beat, she said “only one dollar.”
This story is not uncommon. All over the state of Florida, I hear the same thing: “Drug prices are rising, and we’re having trouble affording the life-saving medication we need.”
I recently met Sabine Rivera, a 12-year-old from Naples, Florida, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than two years ago. Sabine is already worried about how she will afford the rising cost of insulin – something no 12-year-old should have to stress about.
Patients want to shop for better coverage and lower costs, but too often, they can’t or don’t know how. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are charging low prices for prescription drugs in Canada, Europe, and Japan, but charging American consumers significantly more.
Why? Because for too long, politicians have done nothing.
Americans consumers are subsidizing the cost of prescription drugs in Europe and Canada and all over the world. Why should we do that?
That’s certainly not putting America first. That’s not putting American families first. That’s why I’m working with President Trump and Republicans and Democrats in Congress to fix this problem.
I recently introduced the America First Drug Pricing Plan with Senator Josh Hawley to take real steps to lower costs for patients and put the consumer back in charge of their healthcare decisions.
Part one of my bill focuses on transparency. First, pharmacies must inform patients what it would cost to purchase drugs out-of-pocket instead of using their insurance and co-pay. If patients choose to pay out-of-pocket (which is often cheaper), the total cost would be applied to their deductible.
Second, insurance companies must inform patients of the total costs of their prescription drugs 60 days prior to open enrollment. This will allow patients to be consumers and shop around for the best deal.
And finally, my bill would simply require that drug companies cannot charge American consumers more for prescription drugs than the lowest price they charge consumers in other industrialized nations.
I’ve found that this provision is controversial in Washington. You know where it’s not controversial? Everywhere else.
In Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Panama City, and all across Florida, this just makes sense. I don’t spend much time outside of Florida, but I would wager in states across the country, my bill makes a lot of sense too.
Why would we, American consumers, who make up 40 percent of the market for prescription drugs, pay two to six times more for drugs than consumers in Europe or Canada or Japan?
That needs to change. My bill takes real steps to change it. I believe this should have bipartisan support.
I also led seven of my colleagues in a letter to pharmaceutical companies asking them to work with us on solutions to lower the cost of prescription drugs. We’re still waiting to hear back.
American consumers are facing a crisis of rising drugs costs and we can’t wait any longer. I will not and cannot accept the status quo of rising drug costs.
We need to get something done this year, and I’m fighting every day to make sure we do.