Democrats Still Working on Prescription Drug Pricing

Democrats Still Working on Prescription Drug Pricing

We had also hoped that by this time we could give you information about what’s in the legislation that’s been passed in Congress concerning reducing drug prices.  But we can’t do that because nothing’s been passed yet.

In fact, it was looking bleak last week when it appeared that, according to StatNews, “The White House is abandoning every single policy idea aimed at lowering prescription drug prices in President Biden’s domestic spending package, it announced Thursday morning. Biden is effectively admitting he can’t overcome deeply entrenched pharmaceutical industry opposition to any change to the status quo, even with broad political support for the effort, and both chambers of Congress in Democratic control.”

However, since then word has come out that there are on-going discussions to let Medicare negotiate lower prices for many pharmaceuticals it provides. Excluded would be drugs for which the Food and Drug Administration has granted initial protection against competition, periods that vary but last several years.

Pharmaceutical makers would have to pay a rebate if their prices rise above certain markers. And there would be a cap on seniors' out-of-pocket drug costs under Medicare Part D.

The emerging plan could allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time, and talks continue on what categories of drugs will be subject to the cost-cutting negotiation power. The plan centers around drugs no longer under patent protection rather than drug company exclusive products, but is tied to patent reforms meant to stop repeat extensions which the drug companies use to prevent the manufacture of generics and allow them to continue to reap huge profits.

The plan under discussion would also provide large numbers of Americans with assistance to pay for health care, among other several other things.

Much of its costs would be covered with higher taxes on people earning over $10 million annually and large corporations.

While agreement has been reached to add coverage to Medicare for some hearing services, vision and dental coverage did not make it into the legislative framework.  It also dramatically reduces a proposal to improve home health services.

The drug industry has been pouring millions of dollars into its lobbying efforts to try and stop any effort to lower drug prices.  According to a report in Politico, “Though the drug industry's goal is preventing any government price negotiation whatsoever, limiting the bargaining to a narrow subset of drugs and leaning more heavily on measures like out-of-pocket caps that don’t impact the companies’ bottom line would be a victory in itself.”