Senator Approves Most Democrats’ Drug Price Controls
Democrats said the senator cut back on Democrats’ plan to curb drug prices, but left it mostly unscathed on Saturday, as party leaders prepare to start moving their sprawling economic bill. through the room.
Chamber rules arbiter Elizabeth McDonough said provisions that will force drug companies to pay rebates if their prices rise above inflation rates for products they sell to private insurers should be repealed. Pharmaceutical companies will have to pay these fines if the prices of medicines purchased by Medicare rise too high.
Other restrictions remained on rising drug costs, including allowing Medicare to negotiate the costs of the drugs it buys, covering seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses and providing free vaccines.
“This is a major victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York State said in a statement. “Although there is an unfortunate judgment that the inflation discount is more limited in scope, the overall program remains intact as we finally get one step closer to doing Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.”
The parliament’s decision came after a 10-day period that saw Democrats revive key components of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda after they appeared to have died. In quick deals with two unlikely Democratic senators – first conservative Joe Manchin of West Virginiathen Central Arizona Kirsten Cinema Schumer has put together a broad package to tackle climate change, energy, health care costs and even deficit reduction, all on the back of congressional elections in the fall.
Dropping sanctions on drug companies for raising prices on private insurers was a clear setback for Democrats. The decision reduces incentives for drug companies to restrict what they charge, which increases costs for patients.
Analysts said it would also reduce the $288 billion in 10-year savings that Democrats estimated the overall drug restrictions imposed – possibly in the tens of billions of dollars.
However, the parliament’s ruling left Democrats able to tout the drug clauses as a boon to consumers at a time when voters are angered by the worst inflation in four decades.
Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that while he was “disappointed” that the penalties for higher drug prices for privately insured consumers were dropped, “the legislation nonetheless puts a major test on Big Pharma’s ability to manipulate prices.”
Schumer plans to begin voting in the Senate on the comprehensive bill later on Saturday. The measure faces unanimous Republican opposition, but with the support of Manchin and Cinema, Democrats should be able to get the measure to pass in the Senate by 50-50, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s watershed vote.
The corridor of the house can come when that room returns briefly from recess on Friday.