New Senate Bill Threatens Lower Drug Prices

New Senate Bill Threatens Lower Drug Prices

With Election Day just a month away it is a good time to restate that TSCL is a non-partisan organization. We do not pick sides between Democrats and Republicans, nor do we endorse candidates.

However, what we do is endorse or oppose legislation no matter which elected official, or party supports it. If we believe the legislation is good for seniors, we support it. If it’s bad for seniors, we oppose it.

TSCL supporters are no doubt aware that we supported the legislation passed by Congress a number of weeks ago that, for the first time, will lower prescription drug prices. Unfortunately, the bill was highly partisan – it received no Republican votes in either house of Congress - and while we would prefer to support legislation that has the support of both parties, which was not an option.

Now, we must report that last Friday, Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would roll back the drug pricing reforms, including the measures allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time in the program’s history. It also repeals the cap that was placed a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on annual drug costs for seniors on Medicare, as well as a $35 monthly copay for insulin.

Republican Sens. James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), and Marco Rubio (Fla.) introduced the “Protecting Drug Innovation Act,” saying they wanted to pull back government authority over the prices of drugs covered by Medicare.

“Prescription drug prices are too high for many critical drugs, which demonstrates the need for more competition and more options for consumers,” Lankford, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.

If passed, Lankford’s bill states it would make it so that the drug pricing reduction measures “had never been enacted.”

“Unfortunately, the Democrats’ new government drug price control in their so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ creates even more barriers to effectively bringing down the cost of prescriptions, particularly for senior adults on Medicare,” added Lankford.

In his own statement, Senator Lee argued that price controls, “… exacerbate the problems they seek to resolve. Mandating fixed prescription drug prices will ultimately result in the shortening of American lives,” the Utah senator said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre lambasted the bill on Twitter, saying it puts “special interests before working families.”

“Their new bill is a giveaway to Big Pharma at the expense of seniors by ending Medicare’s new ability to negotiate lower drug prices,” Jean-Pierre said. “Their vision for the country is extreme and out of touch with working families across the country.”

TSCL has fought for legislation to reduce prescription drug prices for years and although the new law is far from perfect, it the first time Congress has ever passed a law to reduce drug prices.

The big drug companies fought the new bill by spending millions of dollars to oppose it, including giving money to the campaigns of many members of Congress to try and influence their votes.

Although several Republican Senators have expressed concern about the high costs of prescription drugs, when they held the majority, they were unable to come up with a bill to fix the problem that all Republicans members would support. In fact, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow any drug price-reducing legislation come up for a vote.

We urge TSCL supporters to contact their Senators and ask them what their position is on this new bill and then urge them to oppose it.

We also urge you to keep this in mind when you vote next month.