Historic prescription drug pricing relief closer to reality

‘Once-in-a-generation’ prescription drug pricing reform could be coming. Here’s what we know – CNBC

The Better Care Reconciliation bill is on life support. Still, a few pieces are getting a new lease of life in the newly announced 2022 inflation reduction law – including some provisions related to healthcare.

If the proposed inflation bill passes, Medicare could negotiate prices for 10 “high-cost” drugs prescribed to Medicare beneficiaries, most of them elderly. It would also cap the out-of-pocket costs for medicines purchased over-the-counter by those in Medicare drug plans at $2,000.

Medicare beneficiaries told reporters earlier this year that they faced challenges affording drugs in the current program. The proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for drugs would help to reduce health care costs for 13 million Americans.

Not everyone believes the solutions to Medicare’s drug cost are sane. Dr. Wayne Winegarden, a senior research scientist for trade and economics at Pacific Research Institute, said that Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices would amount to price controls.

Democratic holdout Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. has supported a provision to negotiate Medicare drug prices, and the inflation bill will require pharmaceutical companies that increase Medicare drug prices faster than the rate of inflation to refund any overcharges.

The bill extends the Affordable Care Act subsidies for another three years and ensures people who made more than 400 percent of the poverty level eligible for some help with costs. It also covers the cost of vaccinations for older adults.

Manchin said the bill would lower inflation by paying down the national debt, reducing energy costs, and lowering healthcare costs. The bill would also capture unpaid taxes and go after tax dodgers, investing the money into enforcing tax laws.

CNN reported that Schumer and Manchin had reached an agreement on Wednesday and that Manchin had been throwing cold water on doing taxes and energy provisions as part of a deal but eventually agreed.

The framework of a tax reform bill has yet to be worked out, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, R-Ariz., has expressed distaste for raising business taxes as part of a “Build Back Better” bill.

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