Democrats in Congress reach a deal on prescription drug costs for seniors : NPR

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Bottles of medicine are on the belt at the Express Script Mail In Pharmacy warehouse in Florence, NJ in 2018. Democratic lawmakers have agreed to reduce the price of prescription drugs for the elderly.

Julio Cortez / AP

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Julio Cortez / AP

Bottles of medicine are on the belt at the Express Script Mail In Pharmacy warehouse in Florence, NJ in 2018. Democratic lawmakers have agreed to reduce the price of prescription drugs for the elderly.

Julio Cortez / AP

Democrats in Congress have taken a big step, if they step back considerably, to lower prescription drug prices for older Americans, and compromise on the issue after a major battle. has taken.

The move is part of President Biden’s plan for better social spending, which Democrats are still discussing.

The agreement, announced Tuesday, will allow Medicare Parts B and D to negotiate prices with certain drug manufacturers directly and to limit out-of-pocket expenses for the elderly. At $ 2,000 a year, the program is the first of its kind in history.

“Pricing of prescription drugs has been a major issue for Americans year after year, including the majority of both Democrats and Republicans who want to see change because they just can’t afford their own drugs,” the Senate said. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N. .Y., Said in a statement.

“We’ve heard it from people all over the country who have serious illnesses and can’t afford their own medicine. It’s in such a demanding position. It’s terrible.”

Schmidt noted that many lawmakers would like to go further, but still called the agreement “a big step to help the American people.”

Under current law, Medicare Part D registrants pay 5% of the total cost of their medicines after reaching a certain limit, which is called the “destructive” clause in the outpatient prescription drug agreement. It aims to help patients save their medical bills from financial ruin.

The 2021 threshold is currently set at $ 6,500 for out-of-pocket drug spending, a number that healthcare activists say is too high and is still a low- and middle-income earner. Can be harmful to Americans for whom this program is designed. .

The White House praised the deal in a statement Tuesday evening, calling the ban on direct talks between Medicare and drug makers an “unfair prohibition” that hurts American seniors. The statement also defined a clause in the agreement that would limit insulin prices for diabetics to $ 35 a month.

Lawyers’ response to the news

The AARP, which advocates for the elderly and calls for new policies, on Tuesday praised the agreement and called on lawmakers to legislate.

“Allowing Medicare to finally negotiate drug prices is a big win for seniors,” CEO Joe Ann Jenkins said in a statement. “Stopping prices from rising faster than inflation and adding an out-of-pocket cap to Part D will bring real relief to the drug-addicted elderly.”

The new proposal also includes tax penalties for pharmaceutical companies that raise their prices above national inflation.

PhRMA, which represents pharmaceutical companies, said the plan was a “threat to innovation.”

President and CEO Stephen J. Yubel said, “Under the guise of ‘negotiation’, it gives the government the power to tell you how much a drug costs and how many patients have less access to the drug and fewer new treatments.” The future lies ahead. “

Winning on hold outs

Of The original, more extensive repetition of the bill – which passed the U.S. House twice – was blocked by some prominent Democrat holdouts in the Senate, including New Jersey’s Sen. Bob Menendez, who has several drug makers in the state, and Arizona’s San Kirsten Cinema in particular. ۔

Cinema, about which there was silence in front of the media Its demands On the Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar budget plan, it was publicly argued that the original $ 3.5 trillion was the price tag. much more. Its resistance to a more important package I got very angry From Democrats, who need full support within the party to move forward on this proposal.

But in a statement Tuesday, the cinema office said it was pleased that an agreement had been reached on drug pricing.

“After reaching the first agreement with Senator Cinema President Biden to include the historic Medicare drug negotiations in the reconciliation package – the policies that were removed from the initial framework at the request of members of the US House of Representatives – Speaker Pelosi Contacted Senator Cinema last weekend. “Negotiations continue,” John La Bombard, his office’s communications director, said in a statement.

The senator welcomes a new agreement on a historic, transformative Medicare drug negotiation plan that will reduce out-of-pocket costs for the elderly – ensuring that drug prices do not exceed inflation. Don’t rush – save taxpayer dollars, and keep Arizona and Americans continuing to protect innovation. Life-saving drugs, and access to new treatments and treatments. “

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with whom Cinema discussed the issue, said she was “happy” to compromise.

For a generation, House Democrats have been fighting for real negotiations on drug prices that will reduce costs. There is a way forward to improve this change agenda, our seniors, “Pelosi said in a statement.

“We are now drafting a text of legislation to reflect this important agreement. I am pleased with the agreement reached between the members of the House and the Senator Cinema.”

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