Yet the plan is now moving forward without a plan that would have penalized drugmakers for more expensive drugs than inflation in private insurance plans and Medicare.
Excluding the limits on insurance costs means that it is almost time to cut costs for many Americans who receive health insurance through their private employer. Democrats are still awaiting a decision from separate lawmakers on their policies to lower the cost of insulin inside and outside of Medicare.
The decision also means billions of dollars in cuts to federal spending in the overall bill, which could threaten Democrats’ hopes of ending Obamacare’s funding bill.
However, Democrats argue that the bill will advance in the coming weeks with its most important part: the removal of a ban that has prevented the federal government from directly negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer He called the lawmakers’ decision “good news” in a statement on Saturday.
“Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate drug prices, seniors will have free vaccinations and their costs will be reduced, and more,” he said.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), the key leader of the Bill, said that the law “would break the iron curtain Big Pharma has been fighting over drug prices, and this is a game changer. If it passes, Pharma will not be able to stick to consumers all the time in their will. And this is especially important in the decline of prices for people at the tap and grocery store.”
But Welch, who is running to replace Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), acknowledged that the lawmakers’ decision remains a major victory for the pharmaceutical industry.
“It would mean that pharmaceutical companies could raise prices beyond inflation,” he said in an interview in the days leading up to the vote.
The drug industry and Senate Republicans had been preparing for months to achieve the reduction in prices – through a process known on Capitol Hill as the “Byrd bath.” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that he went through the bill “line by line” trying to bring up any problems he could find.
Democrats who have pushed the bill for years were confident it would pass under the Senate’s strict rules, which limit how easily bills can pass. many. Only proposals that are closely related to federal funds or funds that can fly, but not those that make major policy changes and only have an “emergency” on the federal budget.
Democrats have said the bill needs to raise drug prices to pass, warning that failure to do so would mean drug companies could raise prices even higher for people with private insurance to recoup their costs. directs the bill that is still needed for Medicare.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said such policies “are often the subject of controversy that is attractive to members of the legislature.”
“You can’t free the NGOs from the government – one doesn’t work without the other,” he said.
Supporters of the move also pointed to a finding by the U.S. Budget Office last year that the rate cuts would save the government about $80 billion. it’s over ten years of arguing that it should be allowed to remain in the bill.
However mediation experts and industry insiders were confident that the offer would be withdrawn.
“A lot of people think that if something gets a big CBO rating, it’s not just a matter of luck — but especially if the policy is increasing,” said Stephen Northrup, a former health policy activist. Director of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. “If the inflation rate was low in Medicare, you could show a direct relationship between points and scores. But when you expand the market, the relationship becomes complicated. It seems like you’re trying to save money more than you’re trying to expand a program that has more power than the federal budget.”
Democrats currently have no plan to back up the policy, although some advocates are pushing for an attempt to apply inflation caps to other insurance programs such as Medicaid and federal employee insurance.
Even if they manage to do so, progressives who originally pushed for drug price regulation are frustrated that their already-devalued plan has been so weak in the past year.
Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who worked for months to craft drug pricing language and wrangle votes to pass it, blamed the drug industry’s actions on Capitol Hill for the lack of inflation.
“Special interests are always working against us to get relief for the American people, especially seniors,” he told POLITICO before the congressional decision began. “How ironic that the special interests – and you’ve seen the statistics of how many have the privilege – are trying to protect their profits.”