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Senate puts forward bipartisan bill to lower price of drugs

Published on 24/07/19 at 10:41am

The Senate Finance Committee has introduced a bipartisan bill that aimed at lowering the prices Medicare pays for pharmaceutical drugs.

The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019, would cap out-of-pocket costs for patients on Medicare and penalise companies that hike their prices at rates higher than inflation.

Under the new bill pharmaceutical companies would have to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices at rates higher than inflation. Those rebates would be equal to the difference between the price increase and the rate of inflation.

The bill would also increase transparency around the deals struck by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). “Pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies have the opportunity to negotiate lower prices, but the American people don’t know how much these middlemen pocket for themselves,” Grassley and Wyman said in a statement.

The bill, put forward by Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden is set to save the government a sum of $85 billion over ten years. The bill would also save beneficiaries $27 billion in out-of-pocket costs and $5 billion in premiums over the same period of time.

“The cost of many prescription drugs is too high. Without action, we’re on an unsustainable path for taxpayers, seniors and all Americans. A working class family shouldn’t have to pick between making their rent or mortgage payment and being able to afford their kids’ medications. A single mother with diabetes shouldn’t have to pick between groceries and insulin. A senior citizen who’s paid into the system their entire life shouldn’t have to cut pills in half to be able to make it to the next refill. The time to act on prescription drug prices is now,” Grassley and Wyden said.

“This legislation shows that no industry is above accountability. Passing these reforms, especially those that will affect some of the most entrenched interests in Washington, is never easy. But Americans are demanding action and reform is long overdue,” the senators added.

Louis Goss

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