WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD)- Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), along with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the bipartisan Seniors Prescription Drug Relief Act to strengthen Medicare Part D and make it easier for seniors to afford their medication.

“If someone on Medicare cannot afford their medication, they are going to get sicker or not get better. This bill takes on the root causes of high drug prices because we want to make it easier for seniors to pay for their prescriptions,” said Cassidy.

For seniors, the bill establishes a new out-of-pocket cap on catastrophic coverage, so that beneficiaries would have no costs after reaching $3,100 in out-of-pocket spending. Seniors who reach that limit early in the calendar year could spread their payments over the course of the year, to help those on fixed incomes or who would otherwise struggle to pay their entire obligation in a lump sum.

The bill would also reduce coinsurance from 25 to 20 percent in the initial coverage period, after patients meet their deductible but before they reach the catastrophic cap.

This legislation would reduce the taxpayer’s responsibility for Part D spending, so that insurance plans and drug manufacturers have more skin in the game. This will encourage plans to better negotiate for lower drug prices and better formulary placement, and ensure that when drug prices rise, so does the drug-maker’s financial responsibility. The bill would ensure that the ability for small manufacturers to conduct research and development is not unduly disrupted. These companies may have just one or two products on the market and typically are in high-risk research areas like serious mental illness.