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On January 29, 2019, the Senate and House held separate hearings on prescription drug prices. The Senate Finance Committee’s hearing, Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part 1, explored the rising cost of prescription drugs and potential solutions to the ongoing crisis. In his opening testimony, Ranking Member Ron Wyden stated that “[m]ore than a decade of evidence shows that private Medicare Part D plans often do not do a good enough job of negotiating drug prices downward.” Senator Wyden added that “Medicare ought to be able to use the collective bargaining power of 43 million seniors to get better deals for patients and taxpayers.” In addition to allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, witnesses testified about additional policies that could lower overall drugs costs, including measures to improve the Medicare program. The hearing touched upon reducing the Part B add-on or moving to a flat fee payment, using reference pricing for setting reimbursement rates, drug rebates, and other initiatives.

Similarly, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s hearing, “Examining the Actions of Drug Companies in Raising Prescription Drug Prices,” examined actions driving increasing prices for prescription drugs and their impact on federal and state budgets. Chairman Elijah Cummings’ opening statement noted that “the ongoing escalation of prices by drug companies is simply unsustainable.” Witness testimonies included discussions about market exclusivity, patents, drug innovation and publicly-funded research, price transparency, as well as other measures discussed in the Senate hearing.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy previously submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee on prescription drug pricing reform. For more information on some of the recommendations discussed in the Congressional hearings and in our comments, please see: https://www.medicareadvocacy.org/center-comments-on-prescription-drug-pricing-reform/.

January 2019 – D. Valanejad

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