The top Democrat and Republican on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee introduced a proposal to lower prescription drug costs on Tuesday that could save $100 billion in costs to government healthcare plans and stated the panel would vote on the legislation on Thursday.
The committee’s chairperson, Senator Chuck Grassley, and its leading Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden, said in a press release they’d been working on the bipartisan program to “deal with the broken prescription drug supply chain” for six months.
It isn’t clear how much backing this, or any other drug pricing measure proposed in Congress, will receive ahead of 2020 presidential elections. However, the cost of U.S. healthcare is bound to be a prime campaign issue.
A spokesperson said the bipartisan program inspired the White House. “At present, we are engaging with alliances to assist in building support,” spokesperson Judd Deere wrote on Twitter.
The proposal intends to keep drug prices down – for Medicare patients as well as those in the business – by forcing pharmaceutical firms to pay discounts to Medicare if they increase costs of medication more than the speed of inflation.
These rebates would be equal to the gap between the price increases and the inflation speed.
The Senate’s second Republican, John Thune, who is also a member of the finance panel, expressed some reservations concerning the recommended discounts, telling reporters this seemed to shift away from free-market forces.
The proposal further features a cap on out-of-pocket costs for medicine lined under Medicare’s Part D, which is for self-administered prescription drugs, in addition to adjustments to the program’s Part B, which covers doctor-administered drugs.