- The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Senate's bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act could save more than $94 billion over the next decade.
- The bill would impose some stringent price reporting controls on the pharmaceutical sector, as well as continuing some significant rebates from drug manufacturers.
- Along with the overall cost savings, the CBO report estimates that Medicare Part D premiums paid by enrollees would drop about $1 billion between 2021 and 2030, even though the enrollee's share of the Part D premium would increase about 4%. However, the pharmaceutical sector mostly remains opposed to the bill.
The Senate has been largely locked in gridlock when it comes to major legislation in recent years. However, the recent controversies about the systematic increases in drug prices — oftentimes for medicines that have been available to the public for a half-century or more — has pushed lawmakers to try to act.
Authored by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the Prescription Drug Pricing Act hasn't been killed yet, but it's been on the Senate's legislative calendar for nearly six months. Though no vote has yet been taken, it did pass out of the Senate Finance Committee with bipartisan support.
The report released Friday by the CBO gives an idea what the overall impact of the sweeping bill would be.
The biggest savings would be from rebates from manufacturers for products whose prices increase faster than inflation. Between 2021 and 2030, rebates for Medicare Part D would save $69.7 billion, while rebates for Part B would save $12.3 billion. Modifying the maximum rebate under the Medicaid drug rebate program would save $14.2 billion.
Another measure — which would require manufacturers of some single-dose container or package drugs to refund Medicare Part B for discards — would save $9 billion. A redesign of Part D would save $3.4 billion.
By contrast, allowing new concessions and fees in the negotiated prices of drugs for use in Medicare Part D would cost an additional $21.7 billion between 2021 and 2030.
Grassley and Wyden issued a joint statement Friday suggesting that there will be a significant battle yet to come to get their legislation passed.
"Our bipartisan legislation saves billions in out-of-pocket expenses, premiums and taxpayer dollars. We're continuing to build support for the bill and this information will be key in educating our colleagues about the many benefits of our approach," they said.
Their package competes with a proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that requires direct price negotiation from the federal government and the pharmaceutical sector. The CBO has estimated that plan would reduce Medicare drug spending by $369 billion over a decade.