As a reminder, the House of Representatives has already passed two pieces of legislation that would lower prescription drug costs.
The first bill is the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R.3), which would save Medicare some $450 billion over ten years, mainly by allowing the program to negotiate prices directly with Big Pharma.
The second bill is the Build Back Better Act, a very large bill with many provisions, one of which would enable Medicare to negotiate the prices of up to 10 drugs per year starting in 2023, with that number eventually rising to up to 20 drugs per year. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal budget savings from the drug pricing provisions would be $297 billion over ten years.
However, the Senate has yet to act on either of these bills because there are not enough votes to pass them.
The positive news is that Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Schumer have met to discuss a so-far elusive budget reconciliation bill that the pivotal West Virginia Democrat says must address high inflation with deficit reduction, energy production and lower drug prices.
Schumer told reporters Wednesday there are several issues still to work out with Manchin, whose support the Democrats need to get the 50 votes necessary in the evenly divided Senate.