The Democrats’ sweeping economic package was narrowed somewhat on Saturday after a decision by a senior Senate rules official struck down one of the provisions aimed at reducing prescription drug prices.
The Senate congressman, an official who determines whether the provisions meet the chamber’s complicated budget rules, struck down part of a provision that would limit drug company price increases to the rate of inflation.
Senate Democrats had proposed requiring drug companies to reimburse the government if their prices rose faster than the rate of inflation, both in Medicare and in the private health insurance market.
The congressman allowed the provision to remain in Medicare, but removed it for people with private health insurance, such as those who are covered through their jobs, a significant portion of the population.
Yet, as expected, the congressman authorized the Democrats’ signature drug pricing measure, which for the first time would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain drugs.
The parliamentarian also authorized the Democrats’ clean energy tax package. Other parts of the package are still awaiting decisions, including a $35 cap on what patients have to pay out of pocket for insulin.
“Democrats have received some very good news: For the first time ever, Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will have free vaccines and their costs will be capped, and much more.” , Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) said in a statement. “This is a great victory for the American people. Although there was an unfortunate ruling that inflation reimbursement has a more limited scope, the overall program remains intact and we are poised to tackle finally to Big Pharma and reduce Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.
Provisions are judged on their sufficiently substantial impact on the federal budget. The rules stem from the special procedure Democrats use for their package to avoid a GOP filibuster called budget reconciliation.
The end result is that the drug price savings included in the package are even more focused on older people under Medicare and largely miss those with private health insurance.