Instead of making seniors go out of their way to get the medicine they need, Medicare Part D should go out of its way to make those drugs as accessible as possible. That’s why I’ve introduced a bill that will make it easier for seniors to fill their prescriptions and that will help rural communities in Arkansas that have been far too often overlooked.
Arkansas seniors have come to rely on their community pharmacists, having known them for most of their lives. And under current law, Medicare Part D plans permit any state-board-certified pharmacy to participate in the plan’s network. But the overwhelming majority of Part D plans have created separate preferred-pharmacy networks, which don’t include many of these community pharmacies. As a result, many seniors must either travel to a pharmacy that is in their network or pay higher co-payments or co-insurance to continue using their local pharmacy.
This is an unnecessary—and unfair—burden to put on our seniors, so I’ve joined my colleagues in reintroducing the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (S. 1044). It will provide people on Medicare Part D more flexibility to choose pharmacies in their communities without paying more. It would also allow local pharmacies to band together to negotiate lower drug prices within their region, which will help lower prices for seniors.
The bill would require that community pharmacies in medically underserved areas, medically underserved populations, and health-professional-shortage areas be allowed to participate in Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy networks if they are willing to accept the contract terms and conditions of existing preferred providers.
I’d like to think that’s simply common sense. We should give these seniors the same choices they’ve always had under Medicare. After all they’ve done for our country, they deserve nothing less.
Thomas “Tom” Cotton is an American politician who is the junior United States Senator from Arkansas. A member of the Republican Party, Cotton has served in the Senate since January 3, 2015.