Part D negotation legislation was a priority in the Dems’ first 100 hour agenda. Now, the fate of this bill lies in the hands of the Senate and White House, where Senator Baucus (R-MT) chair of the Senate Finance committee, will be a key figure to watch.

Members of Congress and others opposed to negotiation have the “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” sort of approach, but a Families USA report released this past week clearly shows many Part D plans are failing to provide low prices for seniors. Check out the difference compared to VA prices (these stats blew me away):

For all of the top 20 drugs prescribed to seniors, VA prices were substantially lower than the lowest prices charged by the Part D insurers, according to the report. The median price difference was 58 percent. In other words, for half of the 20 drugs, the lowest price charged by the Part D insurers was at least 58 percent higher.

According to the report, the difference between the lowest VA price and lowest price of any of the Part D plans offered by the five largest companies is enormous, including:

For Protonix, a gastrointestinal agent, the VA price was $214.52, and the lowest Part D plan price was $1,148.40—a $933.88 difference, or 435 percent.
For Fosamax, an osteoporosis treatment, the VA price was $250.32, and the lowest Part D plan price was $763.56—a difference of $513.24, or 205 percent.
For Toprol XL (100 mg), a beta blocker, the VA price was $250.06, and the lowest Part D plan price was $395.52—a difference of $145.46, or 58 percent.
For Celebrex, an anti-inflammatory drug, the VA price was $632.09, and the lowest Part D plan price was $946.44—a difference of $314.35, or 50 percent.
For Zocor (20 mg), a lipid-lowering agent, the VA price for a year’s treatment was $127.44, while the lowest Part D plan price was $1,485.96—a difference of $1,358.52, or 1,066 percent.

Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) voted against the bill saying, “I want real solutions to lower the price of prescription drugs.”

Hmmm, seems like the VA has a real solution, negotiation anyone?