The legislation is now headed the House.
A group of Republican physicians wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) describing their ‘strong opposition to the government drug price control policies in [their] reconciliation package.”
The members of the GOP Doctors Caucus argued that the pricing reform would jeopardize patient access to care, and force many physician practices to close their doors.
The non-profit Business Group on Health also criticized the bill. The legislation “creates extraordinary risk for American employees and their families, most of whom receive health and prescription drug coverage through employer-sponsored plans,” read part of a statement from the group.
The Business Group on Health also faulted the legislation for its lack of “support for private market solutions or protections for employer plans.” “We are alarmed that employer plan cross-subsidization will be expected once again to shoulder additional costs and make up for any perceived shortfall in prescription revenues by drug manufacturers,” it continued in a statement. “We believe this Medicare provision risks unfairly burdening employer plans and working families and are concerned with its enactment.”
The $740 billion bill includes $288 billion of funding for the drug pricing plan.
The Drug Price Negotiation Program would go into effect in 2023.
A total of 10 drugs would be covered beginning in 2026. The number would increase to 20 by 2029.
Republicans were united in opposition against the proposal.
Many other governments in wealthy countries have negotiation-based pricing controls.
Democrats have attempted to give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug pricing for decades.
The congressional victory could be one of the largest of Biden’s tenure.
The legislation would also limit Medicare recipients’ out of pocket costs to $2,000 each year.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lambasted the bill. “The prescription drug bill released today went from bad to worse for patients,” said Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Debra DeShong. “Democrats weakened protections for patient costs included in previous versions, while doubling down on sweeping government price-setting policies that will threaten patient access and future innovations.”
DeShong goes on to fault the bill for failing to acknowledge the role of middlemen and insurers in inflating drug costs.
An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal also took aim at the drug pricing plan, arguing that Medicare price controls would inflate costs for other consumers.
An earlier version of the Senate bill had a provision that would have limited drug pricing increases to inflation.
The U.S. pays more for prescription drugs than any other country, according to Health System Tracker. In addition, the majority of U.S. adults believe drug prices are unaffordable.
According to OpenSecrets, the pharma sector pays more than any other sector on lobbying.