In early July, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) met with Republican committee members to discuss a potential agreement that he and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) have been negotiating for months. The proposal would limit drug companies’ ability to raise the prices of products in Medicare Part D faster than inflation. If the prices rose too quickly, companies would have to refund Medicare.
Though this signals the possibility for a bipartisan agreement, certain Senate Republicans are resisting the proposal, contending that it amounts to a government takeover of drug pricing.
“The key is the Wyden amendment,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). “I think basically it’s the first step toward government rate controls on drug prices. If people want to do that they can, but I don’t think that’s a good answer.”
Not all Republicans share Sen. Roberts’ view. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is pushing for a full Senate vote on health-care legislation before the end of July, which may include drug pricing policy.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) stated that legislators are waiting for feedback from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). “The chairman wants to get some feedback from the CBO on some of these ideas and see what some of the potential impacts would be, so there’s no deal yet, but a good discussion.” He also added that a vote is not pre-eminent, “I don’t think anybody’s ready to cast any votes just yet, but we’re trying to figure out what the traffic will bear and what we think we can get the votes to do.”