Looking for Kickstart Biden’s agenda, Schumer unveils a bill for Medicare drugs

On Wednesday, Democratic senators took a formal step toward reviving President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, starting with Medicare as a measure to bargain prices with drug makers and more broadly to curb rising drug spending.

A similar proposal died in December when Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) decided to oppose Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion Build Back Better Bill, which included a provision allowing Medicare drug negotiations.

Curbing drug costs has long been popular with the public, with more than 80% of Americans supporting measures such as allowing Medicare to negotiate and imposing a cap on drug inflation.

The bill, released Wednesday, will both do, as well as limit the cost of out-of-pocket medications for Medicare beneficiaries to 2,000 2,000 a year, create free vaccines for Medicare people, and provide additional support to low-income seniors to afford their medications.

The focus of the bill is the provision for discussion. Under the law, Medicare could begin a new pricing process next year, with the Secretary of Health and Human Services identifying 10 drugs subject to bargaining. As a result prices will be effective in 2026 By 2029 10 additional drugs will be followed

Expert observers say the plan is politically attractive, considering competitive interests and is important for Medicare customers – the federal health insurance program for older adults and some people with disabilities – and beyond.

“They did an amazing job of threading the needle to get all 50 [Democratic] Senator, I mean, getting everyone on board was a difficult task, “said Gerard Anderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Several Democrats in the House and Arizona Democrat Sen. Kirsten criticized earlier versions of the drug provision in the defunct Build Back Better Bill, threatening to oppose them or the bill. They agree with the pharmaceutical industry’s argument that limiting profits will stifle drug innovation. Eventually, most Democrats rallied around a version of the Build Back Better Bill. When asked about the bill released on Wednesday, a spokesman for the movie did not comment directly but pointed to Arizona’s embrace of the final build-back better provision.

Although discussions between Medicare and manufacturers will focus on a maximum of 20 drugs, they could easily have an outsourcing effect, Anderson said. “A relatively small number of drugs are responsible for a large part [Medicare] Part D costs, and if they deal with them, they will play an important role in controlling drug prices, ”he explained.

The bill would require pharmaceutical companies to make concessions if they raise prices too quickly. “If this bill becomes law, it will be a clear victory for the people of Medicare and private insurance,” said Tricia Newman, executive director of KFF’s program on Medicare policy.

The lobbying and public policy agency for the pharmaceutical industry, PhRMA, criticized the bill, saying its provisions were worse than the original Build Back Better Act. Debra Dishang, executive vice president of public affairs at PHRMA, has repeatedly expressed concern about the innovation, saying Democratic plans have “gone from bad to worse for patients.”

“Democrats have undermined protection for patient costs included in previous versions, while doubling government pricing policies that would threaten patient access and future innovations,” Dishang said in a statement. He is referring to the end of a rule by the Trump administration that sent drug discounts directly to consumers, cost the government billions of dollars, and on other items that are not in the new bill, such as insulin caps. Cost

However, policy summaries that were used by Democrats to write bills and shared by Democratic activists – provided they were not disclosed – suggested that Democrats believed that pricing on 15- and 20-year-old drugs was exclusive. Ending will encourage innovation. Companies to create new drugs.

Advocates for reform have also welcomed the work. “Big Pharma has been making money from strategy and abuse for years while consumers have suffered the consequences,” said Frederick Issaci, executive director of Families USA. “This reform will help ensure that when companies make a profit, they do it because they are innovating and serving their customers, not hiring the best lawyers and lobbyists.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expects the bill to pass by the end of July, but that goal may be on track.

The census wants to pass the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation. Under the reunion, bills could move faster, avoiding Senate filibuster. Democrats can approve the measure with the support of all 50 Democratic senators and a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The caveat is that reconciliation bills must have a connection to the budget and be passed jointly with members of the Senate. On Wednesday, Schumacher’s office delivered the Medicare bill to MP Elizabeth McDonough, who could hit some part of it.

Since Democrats have considered these provisions before, they are not expecting big changes. However, drug price caps are only part of what they expect in the reconciliation bill. Schumer is still in talks with Manchin to bring in elements that address climate change, energy production and taxes. Exactly what those provisions might be could affect the bill’s reception in the House, where progressives have been outraged by Manchin’s position.

At the very least, the progress of the drug bill would make it easier to achieve some other democratic goals, as it would save the federal government a lot of money, which could later be applied to other programs. Although new estimates have not yet been obtained, drug provisions taken from the old Build Back Better proposal were estimated to reduce federal spending by about $ 300 billion in 10 years.

And with Democrats facing a terrible midterm election this fall, they have good reason to unite around popular drug-related measures. “I think the pressure is on for the Democrats,” Anderson said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already threatened to block other parts of the law as Democrats move forward with the reconciliation process, but he could do little to stop the drug-price bill if 50 Democratic senators unite. Republicans can reasonably expect to propose the most amendments. Under the agreement, each party has the right to vote on a number of amendments.

Democrats and some advocacy groups will want lawmakers to use reconciliation bills to address other health-related issues, such as increased premium subsidies for coverage purchased in Affordable Care Act marketplaces and expanded coverage for low-income residents in the state. To extend Medicaid under the ACA.

“We hope that additional legislation will be enacted soon that will reinvest savings from stopping the abuse of drug companies,” said Issaci of Families USA. “Taken together, these reforms will be a historic opportunity to create affordable healthcare and economic security for families.”

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