House Passes Historic Legislation to Lower Drug Prices

House Passes Historic Legislation to Lower Drug Prices

Last Friday the House of Representatives completed the last Congressional action needed to pass the historic legislation that will, finally, lower some prescription drug prices.

The bill has been sent to the President for his signature, after which it will become law.

The provision to lower drug prices, which is part of a much larger bill called the Inflation Reduction Act, passed the House in a 220-207 party-line vote. As in the Senate, every Democrat voted in favor of the bill and nearly every Republican voted against it.  (Four Republicans did not vote.)

It took more than a year of negotiations among Senate Democrats on a spending package to finally pass the bill and just a few weeks ago it appeared to be dead in the water. The legislation will increase taxes on corporations, address climate change and bring down the prices of prescription drugs, all while lowering the deficit.

In brief, the health care provision of the bill will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for 10 high-cost drugs starting in 2026. By 2029, that number is expected to grow to 20 drugs. Additionally, the measure allows caps to be placed on some drug costs, but mainly for Medicare. In addition, for the first time, a tax penalty will be imposed on drug companies failing to abide by new prices.

We give a more detailed description of what the bill will do below for those who are interested.

Supporters of the bill claim that enabling Medicare to negotiate prices will lower the cost of prescription drugs for the nearly 64 million Americans who are currently on Medicare and more specifically for the 1.4 million beneficiaries who spend more than $2,000 per year on their medications.

Opponents of the bill continue to say that it will result in fewer new medications being invented and in a shortage of certain medications for seniors.