The House passes a bill today, actually a landmark bill that will lower prescription drug prices. It caps out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare enrollees and direct the federal government to negotiate the price of high-cost, lifesaving medications.
The bill passed with a 230-192 vote, and now goes to the Senate for approval.
House Passes A Bill: Best Feature
The best feature of the House-passed legislation directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price of up to 250 of the most expensive drugs each year. Moreover, the drugs subject to negotiation would not have generic alternatives.
HHS would also negotiate the price of insulin, a medication whose cost per patient nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016. This legislation helps lower prices for non-Medicare enrollees, because commercial insurers could take advantage of the negotiated prices.
House Passes A Bill: Out Of Pocket Cap
The House bill caps at $2,000 the amount of money Part D enrollees would have to pay out-of-pocket annually for their prescription drugs. Right now, no such cap exists. Therefore, Medicare beneficiaries must pay for their medications. On average, enrollees take four or five prescription medications each month and have a median income of just over $26,000 a year. Without financial relief, those high costs could force some seniors to forgo buying their meds.
House Passes A Bill: More Unforeseen Benefits
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that this House legislation saves Medicare $500 billion over 10 years. It will use those savings to improve Medicare by adding some basic dental, vision and hearing coverage for beneficiaries.
Prevents Price Increases
Another great feature of the House Bill, drug manufacturers who raise the prices of their medicines by more than the rate of inflation will pay a rebate to the federal government. An In 2017, the average annual retail price increase for brand name, generic and specialty drugs was 4.2 percent — twice the 2.1 percent general rate of inflation that year. And, the average price increase for a group of widely used brand-name drugs alone was 8.4 percent.
The House bill also raises funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $10 billion over the next 10 years. The NIH will use these funds to find solutions to antibiotic resistance and other health threats.