Stop shock sticker at pharmacy counter
Q&A: Stop the clash of stickers at the pharmacy counter
With US Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What are Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and why are you working to reform how they work?
A: So far this year, I have held 61 county meetings across the state. I hear from Iowans that it’s harder than ever to make ends meet. Paying for gas and groceries takes up more of their wallet. And that makes it even more difficult to pay for soaring prescription drug prices. The shock of the stickers at the pharmacy counter is more painful than ever. For several years, I led the effort in Congress to push for a bipartisan consensus on reforms that would reduce costs for consumers without undermining the medical breakthroughs on which generations of Americans depend to live more healthier, longer and more productive. When I chaired the Senate Finance Committee, I led a two-year investigation into insulin drug prices and called on big pharma and insurance executives to testify on Capitol Hill. , as well as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) who serve as intermediaries in the complex. prescription drug supply chain. Through my investigative work, policy review, and Iowans feedback, it is clear that the drug pricing structure needs transparency to root out unfair and deceptive practices that allow drug prices on order to soar. Sunlight will help curb predatory pricing schemes and hold drug prices paid by taxpayers, patients and employers accountable. I worked with Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont to stop the anti-competitive schemes used by Big Pharma that are delaying the arrival of more affordable generic drugs on pharmacy shelves. Our CREATE law was enacted in 2019 and will save consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade. My Bipartisan Right of Reimbursement Act was also signed into law under the Trump administration and closes a loophole that Big Pharma exploited to misclassify drugs in the Medicaid Drug Rebate program and defraud the taxpayer out of billions each year.
More recently, I introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington that would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to crack down on abusive PBM practices and review pricing structures, such as the pricing of deviations. This practice occurs when the PBM pays a price to the pharmacy but charges the patient’s health plan a higher rate to pocket the difference. Our Pharmacy Benefits Manager Transparency Act help eliminate misleading pricing systems; prohibit PBMs from collecting payments from pharmacies; and requiring PBMs to report to the FTC how much money they make from split pricing and pharmacy fees. Nonpartisan budget markers from the Congressional Budget Office estimate that ending differential pricing in Medicaid would save taxpayers about $900 million over the next decade.
Q: Should the federal government negotiate drug prices for the Medicare program?
A: First of all, let’s be perfectly clear on the meaning of “negotiate”. This means the government would dictate drug prices, there would be no bargaining. It puts government bureaucrats between Americans and what’s in their medicine cabinets. Fixing the prices pharmaceutical companies can recoup for research and development would dry up innovation, cede our American ingenuity and leadership to China, deprive the consumer of choice, and ration access to drugs, therapies and cures that save lives. When I chaired the Senate Finance Committee in 2003, I authored the most comprehensive modernization of Medicare since its enactment more than five decades ago. My bill created voluntary Part D prescription drug coverage. Today, 49 million seniors have drug coverage. At that point, I stopped the progressive push to give the federal government responsibility for a single drug pricing regime. Instead, my bill promoted competition to keep costs low, expand patient choice, and encourage innovation for better medicine for Americans. Analyzes from the Congressional Budget Office, the Council of Economic Advisers and the University of Chicago all estimate that fewer drugs and treatments would be invented in the next generation if the federal government dictated drug prices. Countries with socialized medicine may be willing to accept fewer treatments, but I think we should encourage more innovation and treatments while reducing costs for patients and taxpayers. And yet, the Biden administration and others want the federal government to dictate drug prices. The Build Back Better agenda has included it among its Big Government plans. Americans can breathe a sigh of relief, these socialist price controls were stopped in the US Senate thanks to longstanding rules that force collaboration and consensus, commonly referred to as filibuster. In the meantime, I have not abandoned on my work to pass my bipartisanship Prescription Drug Price Reduction Act. Instead of harmful socialized price controls, my bill would not stop new drugs from coming to market. It would cut costs for seniors by $72 billion, save taxpayers $95 billion, cap out-of-pocket spending at $3,100, and cap Medicare year-over-year drug prices at inflation price index. It would also be lower the costs for life-saving diabetes drugs. In a nutshell, it would end unlimited taxpayer-funded subsidies to Big Pharma, an approach supported by the CATO Free Market Institute. My bill can cross the threshold of 60 votes in the United States Senate if the majority leader puts it to a vote. Partisan ideas got us nowhere and the Americans paid the price. Legislators must come to the table and do what is right for patients and taxpayers.