37 New Jersey Organizations and Public Citizen Call on Sen. Menendez, Rep. Pallone to Support Medicare Drug Price Negotiations, Medicare Expansion in the Budget Reconciliation Bill

Medicare at 60 Would Cover An Additional 603,000 New Jerseyans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dozens of New Jersey-based organizations and Public Citizen today called on U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to support robust Medicare expansion and cost-saving drug prices in the Democrats’ Build Back Better reconciliation package. 

The groups that signed the letter, including the N.J. State Industrial Union Council, Make the Road N.J.,the Latino Coalition of N.J., Public Citizen and Our Revolution New Jersey, demanded that the New Jersey lawmakers use this opportunity to lower drug prices, add comprehensive dental, vision and hearing benefits and cap out of pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries and lower the Medicare eligibility age to at least 60.

“This broad coalition of New Jersey-based labor, civil rights, consumer, community and health organizations calling on Rep. Pallone and Sen. Menendez to act now in the budget package to improve and expand Medicare mirrors the national movement in favor of these common sense and popular reforms,” said Melinda St. Louis, health care campaign director at Public Citizen. 

The U.S. far outspends any other country for pharmaceuticals, and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices would produce savings of upwards of hundreds of billions of dollars that can be reinvested in bolstering Medicare coverage and help more Americans get the live-saving drugs they need. 

“It is critically important that all elements of Medicare Expansion be included in the final budget reconciliation package,” said Carol Gay, president of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council, “People certainly deserve more in the richest country in the world, but these provisions will go a long way toward helping millions get the healthcare they need.  It is incumbent upon our elected officials to represent the people by putting people over profits.”

“Expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing services is a much-needed improvement to our current Medicare coverage that will be immensely beneficial to seniors who will now have more comprehensive care,” said Anna-Marta Visky, Our Revolution Northeast organizer. “We applaud Frank Pallone for working with us on these measures. However, it’s baffling that, in the middle of a pandemic, we are refusing to expand healthcare to 23 million more Americans by lowering the eligibility age of Medicare to at least 60 – the House and Senate need to do better and deliver crucial progress to our seniors approaching retirement age who have faced significant job loss as a result of the pandemic.”

The letter is available here.