Democrats are missing out on key piece of health agenda in spending bill

However, the plan would now go ahead without a provision that would have penalized drug makers for rising costs faster than inflation for private insurance plans as well as Medicare.

Excluding private insurance rate limits means that there is little left that will reduce costs for the vast majority of Americans who receive health insurance through their private employer. Democrats are still awaiting a separate parliamentary ruling on their policy to reduce the cost of insulin in and out of Medicare.

The decision also means tens of billions of dollars in federal savings cut in the bill overall, a potential threat to Democrats’ hopes of offsetting the cost of Obamacare’s subsidy support.

However, Democrats argue that the bill will move forward in the coming weeks with its most important provisions intact: repealing a long-standing ban on the federal government negotiating directly drug prices with drug companies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer He described the parliament’s decision in a statement on Saturday as “good news.”

“Medical care will finally be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will get free and costed vaccines, and much more,” he said.

re \ come back. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), one of the lead negotiators for the House version of the bill, said the clause “would break the iron curtain that Big Pharma has maintained against drug price negotiation, and that would be a game-changer. If passed, it wouldn’t Pharma is able to stick it to the consumer with its own will and desires. This is especially important with inflation hitting people at the pump and the grocery store.”

But Welch, who is running to replace the retired senator. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), that Parliament’s ruling remains a huge win for the pharmaceutical industry.

“It will basically mean that drug companies can drive price increases beyond inflation,” he said in an interview in the days leading up to the vote.

Pharmaceutical companies and Senate Republicans have planned for months to target the cap on inflation — through a process known on Capitol Hill as “Bird Bath.” Senator. Mike Krabow (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that they reviewed the bill “line by line” in an effort to meet every challenge they could find.

Democrats who have pushed the policy for years have been confident it could pass under the Senate’s strict reconciliation rules, which limit the types of bills that can easily pass. The majority of. Only proposals that relate primarily to federal spending or revenue can fly, but not proposals that make major policy changes and have only an “incidental” effect on the federal budget.

Democrats argued that the bill needed inflation limits for drug prices across the board in order to work, warning that failure to do so would mean drug companies could raise prices higher for people with private insurance to offset their lost cost. Controls the bill is still imposed on Medicare.

Senator. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said such points are “usually the kind of persuasive argument with a parliamentarian.”

“You can’t decouple the private sector from the public sector — one does not work without the other,” he said.

Proponents of the ruling also pointed to what the Congressional Budget Office concluded last year that the provision for inflation limits would save the government about $80 billion. During a decade to argue that it should be allowed to stay in the bill.

However, reconciliation experts and industry insiders were equally sure that the ruling would be left out of the package.

Stephen Northrup, a lobbyist who previously served as a health policy director, said the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “If the inflation ceiling is limited to Medicare, you can draw a very direct relationship between policy and outcome. But when you extend it to the commercial market, the relationship becomes more fragile. It sounds like you are trying to save less money than you are trying to expand a policy that has an impact beyond the federal budget.”

Democrats currently do not have a backup plan for this policy, although some advocates are now pushing to try to apply inflation limits to other federal insurance programs such as Medicaid and insurance for federal employees.

Even if they were able to do so, the progressives who originally pushed for more comprehensive drug price controls are disappointed that their already watered-down plan has gotten weaker over the past year.

President of the Senate Finance Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who worked for months crafting drug pricing language and arguing the votes to pass it, blamed the drug industry’s impact on Capitol Hill for the demise of the inflation cap clause.

“Private interests always work against providing relief to hard-hit Americans, especially the elderly,” he told Politico before the parliament’s decision. “What a surprise that private interests – and I’ve seen the numbers on how many lobbyists they have – are trying to protect their profits.”

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