July 12, 2019 / 10:08 AM / in 9 days

U.S. Democratic hopeful Amy Klobuchar proposes drug cost plan aimed at seniors

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar unveiled a new plan on Friday to help lower the cost of pharmaceuticals purchased by seniors in the wake of the White House scrapping its own ambitious drug cost plan.

FILE PHOTO: Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks at the first U.S. 2020 presidential election Democratic candidates debate in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Klobuchar’s proposal, which is also designed to invest in research for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and improving the stability of Social Security, would allow the government to negotiate Medicare Part D costs, which cover prescriptions for seniors.

Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, would also allow people to order prescription drugs from countries like Canada, a proposal proponents say would lower costs.

Healthcare costs have become a central point of contention in the presidential election. The more than two dozen Democrats vying to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election have argued they would improve healthcare costs.

Some, like U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, have called for a complete government take over of the nation’s health care system.

Trump has also made lowering healthcare costs a central goal of his administration and key message in his re-election bid.

But on Thursday his administration scrapped one of its most ambitious proposals for lowering prescription medicine prices, backing down from a policy aimed at health insurers and raising the possibility of new measures focused on drugmakers.

The abandoned proposal would have required health insurers to pass billions of dollars in rebates they receive from drugmakers to Medicare patients.

In addition to her drug price proposal, Klobuchar also called for raising the amount of wages subject to Social Security taxation.

Currently, the payroll tax that funds Social Security is applied only to the first $133,000 in wages a taxpayer earns. Klobuchar is proposing also applying the payroll tax to wages above $250,000.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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