WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate lawmakers narrowed Democrats’ plan to curb drug prices but left it largely unprotected Saturday, Democrats said, as party leaders began their moves. are ready for A comprehensive economic bill through the chamber.
Elizabeth McDonough, the chamber’s rules arbitrator, said it is important to remove provisions that would force drugmakers to pay rebates if their prices exceed inflation for the products they sell to private insurers. Pharmaceutical companies must pay these penalties if the prices of drugs purchased by Medicare increase too much.
Other restrictions on rising drug costs survived, including letting Medicare negotiate the costs of the drugs it buys, capping out-of-pocket costs for seniors and providing free vaccines.
“This is a huge victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “While it was an unfortunate decision to make the inflation waiver more limited in scope, overall the program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans. are.”
The parliamentarians’ decision came after a 10-day period that saw Democrats revive top components of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda after they were seemingly dead. With two of the Democrats’ most unlikely senators in high-speed deals — Joe Manchin, the first conservative from West Virginiathen Arizona centrist Kristen Sinema – Schumer laid out a broad package to address climate change, energy, health care costs and even deficit reduction, all against the backdrop of this fall’s congressional elections.
Penalizing drugmakers to raise prices on private insurers was a clear blow to Democrats. The decision reduces incentives for drug companies to hold back what they charge, increasing costs for patients.
It would also dwarf the $288 billion in savings over 10 years that Democrats estimated would come from overall drug enforcement — perhaps tens of billions of dollars, analysts said. has said
Still, the parliamentarian’s decision leaves Democrats able to boost drug delivery to consumers at a time when voters are angered by the worst inflation in four decades.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore. said that while he was “disappointed” that penalties for high drug prices for privately insured consumers were eliminated, “the legislation would nevertheless have put a substantial check on Big Pharma’s ability to raise prices.” Is.”
Schumer plans to begin Senate votes on the overall bill later this week. The measure faces unanimous Republican opposition, but with support from Mnuchin and Sinema, Democrats should be able to force the measure through the Senate 50-50, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
House passage could come when that chamber briefly returns from recess on Friday.