House Speaker Pelosi to Release Medicare Drug Pricing Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to release a bill that would allow the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of 250 drugs. The medications, including some insulins and cancer treatments, have only one competitor and pose the highest costs to Medicare.

The drugs would then be available at the new negotiated prices to all consumers, not just Medicare beneficiaries.

The bill would also penalize drug makers who do not participate in negotiations with a noncompliance fee, totaling 75% of the drug’s gross sales from the previous year. It would also cap out-of-pocket costs for senior citizens and introduce an international pricing index to prevent U.S. consumers from paying more than beneficiaries in other countries.

Republican representatives are unlikely to support this proposal, arguing that allowing the federal government to negotiate with companies violates free-market principles.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” said Henry Connelly, a spokesperson for Speaker Pelosi.

Source: The Washington Post, September 9, 2019.