Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and a group of Democrats aligned with the pharmaceutical industry saved drug companies $450 billion in negotiations over President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, The Daily Poster reports.
House Democrats planned to include a measure to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices in Biden’s BBB package. Medicare is the only agency banned from negotiating bulk pricing as a result of a Bush-era Republican law and Democrats estimated their provision would save taxpayers $700 billion over the next decade.
But Sinema and a small group of House Democrats that receive millions from Big Pharma killed the proposal in the evenly-split Senate and narrowly-divided House, where Demcorats can’t afford to lose many votes.
The Pharma-aligned group negotiated a compromise that would only save $250 billion over the next decade, rewarding the industry with $450 billion in savings.
Bill gets defanged:
The original bill would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices but the Sinema-backed compromise limits which drugs Medicare can negotiate.
Under the proposal, Medicare won’t be able to negotiate some of the most expensive drugs until 2025 and the bill won’t even fully phase-in until 2028.
The bill includes a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket drug spending for seniors but that also does not go into effect until 2024.
The bill would also penalize drug makers whose prices rise faster than inflation and impose a $35-per-month cap on the price of insulin, though these will be delayed until 2023.
Big Pharma gets big return on investment:
The changes to the bill came after the pharmaceutical industry broke its own record for lobbying spending.
The pharmaceutical industry has spent $263 million lobbying federal lawmakers so far this year.
Pharmaceutical lobbying firms and companies also donated millions to lawmakers and groups that ran ads defending the pro-Pharma Democrats.
“But in total, the effort will end up costing less than 0.1 percent of the $450 billion the industry will get to keep thanks to corporate Democrats’ handiwork,” The Daily Poster reported. “And drug lobbyists are still working to chip away at the legislation further and block provisions that would limit future price hikes.”