Yet the plan would now go ahead without a provision that would penalize drugmakers for costs that rise faster than inflation in private insurance plans as well as Medicare.
The exclusion of private insurance price ranges means there is little left that would reduce the cost for most Americans who obtain health insurance through their private sector employer. Democrats are still waiting for a separate lawmaker’s decision on their policy to reduce the cost of insulin in and out of Medicare.
The decision also means that overall the bill would reduce tens of billions in federal savings, a potential threat to Democrats’ hopes of recouping the cost to increase Obamacare’s subsidies.
Still, Democrats argue that the bill will move forward in the coming weeks with its most important provision: the repeal of a long-standing ban on the federal government from negotiating drug prices directly with drug companies.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer A statement on Saturday called the MP’s decision “good news”.
“Medicare will eventually be allowed to negotiate drug prices, seniors will have free vaccines and their costs will be limited, and more,” he said.
Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a lead negotiator on the House version of the bill, said the provision “would break the iron curtain Big Pharma has maintained against negotiating drug prices, and it is game-changing. If it is passed.” If this happens, pharma will not be able to consistently keep the consumer at their whim and desire. And this is especially important as inflation is affecting the people at the pump and the grocery store.”
But Welch, who is running to replace retired Sen. Patrick Lehyo (D-Vt.), acknowledged that the MP’s decision is still a major victory for the pharmaceutical industry.
“This would essentially mean that pharma companies could raise prices beyond inflation,” he said in an interview in the days before the vote.
drug companies and Senate Republicans had planned for months To target the inflation cap provision—through a process known as the “bird bath”—on Capitol Hill. Sen Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters they went through the bill “line by line” in an effort to bring up every challenge.
Democrats who pushed the policy for years were confident it could pass under the Senate’s strict conciliation rules, which limited what types of bills could be passed with a simple majority. Only proposals that primarily relate to federal spending or revenue can fly, but not those that lead to major policy changes and only have a “contingent” effect on the federal budget.
Democrats argued that an inflation cap for drug prices was needed across the board for the bill to work, warning that failing to do so would mean that drug companies could raise prices even more for those with private insurance. Regulates the bill that still applies to Medicare.
Sen Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that such points are “generally the kind of argument that is persuasive with MP.”
“You can’t sort out the private sector from the public sector – one without the other doesn’t work,” he said.
Proponents of the provision also point to the Congressional Budget Office’s finding last year that the provision for an inflation cap would save the government about $80 billion. above To argue that it should be allowed to remain in the bill for a decade.
Yet conciliation experts and industry insiders alike were certain that this provision would be taken out of the package.
“Many people think that if something gets a significant CBO score, it cannot be considered accidental – but it is more about whether the policy implications outweigh the budgetary ones,” said Stephen Northrup, a lobbyist. Said, who earlier worked as a health policy. Director of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “If the inflation cap were limited to Medicare, you could make a very direct relationship between policy and score. But when you expand that to the commercial market, the relationship becomes more difficult. It seems that you The less you are trying to save money, the less you are trying to expand a policy that has implications beyond the federal budget.”
Democrats do not currently have a backup plan for the policy, although some advocates are now attempting to introduce inflation limits for other federal insurance programs, such as Medicaid and insurance for federal workers.
Even if they are able to do so, progressives who have originally insisted on more comprehensive drug price controls are disappointed that their already water-logged plan has weakened even further over the past year. .
Senate Finance President ron wyden (D-Orre.), who worked for months on crafting drug pricing language and wrangling votes to pass it, attributed the drug industry’s influence on Capitol Hill to the demise of the inflation cap provision.
“Special interests always work against us, providing relief to hard-hit Americans, especially senior citizens,” he told Politico ahead of the lawmaker’s decision. “So what’s surprising is that Special Interests — and you see the numbers how many lobbyists they have — are trying to protect their profits.”