Despite all the recent drama at the leadership level, the bitter polarization, and the inability to pass funding legislation, there is some work getting done in Congress with the support of both parties.
In late September, three House committees – Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce – introduced the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act. The proposed legislation would require hospitals, payers, labs, imaging providers, and ambulatory surgical centers to list the prices they will charge patients. It also mandates that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) disclose drug rebates and discounts.
Supporters of the legislation hope it will lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors who receive medicine at a hospital-owned outpatient facility, expand access to generic drugs, and help employers give workers the best information possible.
If passed, the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act would:
- Increase price transparency throughout the health care system.
- Address the cost of prescription drugs.
- Support patients, healthcare workers, community health centers, and hospitals
This is the latest example of PBMs drawing the anger of legislators. In July, the Senate Finance Committee voted to support bipartisan efforts to rein in practices that allow PBMs to operate in the shadows, mainly through a practice called spread pricing.
The lobbying arm of the PBMs, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, released a statement countering that the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act does nothing to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for patients.
This is a continuation of the war between the PBMs and the giant pharmaceutical companies over which one is to blame for the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. Both sides are facing a backlash from Congress and the Administration. TSCL hopes this is a process that, in the end, will result in affordable drug prices for all seniors.