WASHINGTON — The Senate congressman cut Democrats’ plan to cut drug prices but left it largely unscathed on Saturday, Democrats said, as party leaders prepared to start pushing through their economic bill sprawling to the bedroom.
Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber rules arbiter, said provisions that would force drugmakers to pay rebates if their prices exceed inflation for products they sell to private insurers must be scrapped.
But drug companies would have to pay those penalties if their prices for Medicare-purchased drugs rose too much.
Other restrictions on rising pharmaceutical costs have survived, including letting Medicare negotiate the costs of the drugs it buys, capping out-of-pocket expenses for seniors, and providing free vaccines.
“This is a major victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said in a statement. “Although there was an unfortunate decision that inflation reimbursement has a more limited scope, the overall program remains intact and we are on the verge of finally taking on Big Pharma and reducing drug prices. Rx for millions of Americans.”
Removing penalties for drugmakers for raising private insurers’ prices will reduce incentives for pharmaceutical companies to cap their prices. It will increase costs for patients and reduce the $288 billion in 10-year savings that Democrats’ overall drug cuts are expected to generate — possibly tens of billions of dollars, analysts say.
Even so, the congressman’s decision has left Democrats in a position to promote the drug provisions as a boon to consumers at a time when voters are enraged by the worst inflation in four decades.
Details of the parliamentarian’s decision were outlined by two Democrats who would discuss it only on condition of anonymity.
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