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Warner applauds drug pricing legislation to reduce health costs

Photo Credit: W. Scott McGill

Senate Finance Committee leaders announced a path forward for an improved version of a bipartisan bill to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., supported the original version of this legislation in July, when it passed the Committee by a bipartisan vote of 19-9.

“I applaud Finance Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Wyden for reaching a bipartisan agreement on drug pricing legislation we drafted in the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year. This bill will produce billions in savings for seniors by placing a cap on their out-of-pocket spending. It will also prevent drug companies from unfairly jacking up the costs of their products by penalizing companies that increase their prices above the rate of inflation,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud to know that this legislation includes language from a bill I authored to reauthorize an independent nonprofit corporation established to save Americans money on their health care costs. This improved bill also extends other important federal funding streams to strengthen our nation’s rural and safety net hospitals, increases access to quality home care for seniors, and improves our nation’s foster care system.”

He continued, “This legislation will bring much-needed relief to Virginians who are struggling to deal with the crushing burden of their health care and prescription drug costs, and will also extend critical programs that support continued health care access and affordability for millions of Americans. I look forward to working with Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Wyden to pass this overdue legislation through the Senate and get it to the President’s desk for his signature.”

The modified version of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA) – a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this year – includes language from Sen. Warner’s bipartisan legislation to reauthorize for ten years the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent nonprofit corporation established to help patients better understand their diagnostic and treatment options. The modified bill utilizes the savings it creates to pay for this and other important health extenders, including a permanent payment rate increase for low-volume and Medicare dependent hospitals, three-year extensions for the National Quality Forum, the Independence at Home (IAH) program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and State Health Insurance Assistance Programs. The bill also stops scheduled payment rate cuts to Medicaid Disproportionate Care hospitals that serve a higher percentage of vulnerable individuals.

Like the version of the bill that passed earlier this year, this legislation will lower the cost of prescription drugs by overhauling the Medicare Part D program. It will create a $3,100 yearly out-of-pocket cap to protect seniors with high drug costs and penalize pharmaceutical companies that raise the cost of a prescription drug faster than the rate of inflation. This bill includes an additional provision to further reduce seniors’ out-of-pocket costs by reducing their required cost sharing from 25 percent to 20 percent in the initial coverage phase. It also includes a provision similar to Sen. Warner’s bipartisan legislation that would allow state Medicaid programs grappling with rising drug costs to explore value-based pricing arrangements that peg the price of a drug to its effectiveness.

recent report on the cost of prescription drugs in Virginia found that the annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased by 57.8 percent between 2012 and 2017, dramatically outpacing the 8.5 percent growth in Virginians’ incomes over the same period.

In Congress, Sen. Warner has long pushed for policy changes to help lower prescription drug costs for Virginia seniors and families. Last month, Sen. Warner introduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize PCORI and help Americans save on their health costs. In January, Sen. Warner reintroduced legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—a move that would cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D.

augusta free press
augusta free press