The Senate Finance Committee votes 19-9 to pass Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act

July 30, 2019
Legislation is intended to reduce drug costs, some say it’s not enough.

In a letter  to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., AHA said, “We agree with the Committee’s goal of reducing the price of drugs, and applaud many of the steps outlined in the description of the Chairman’s Mark of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. However, we have serious concerns regarding the provisions that reduce reimbursements to providers and hospitals that administer drugs.”

Specifically, Section 107 would prohibit Medicare from paying for a Part B drug if the manufacturer fails to pay a civil monetary penalty assessed for not paying a required rebate. Section 110 would establish a $1,000 maximum add-on amount for a separately payable Part B drug, biological or biosimilar.

Section 111 would apply site-neutral payment cuts narrowly, only to drug administration services furnished in grandfathered off-campus provider-based departments, facilities that have been statutorily exempt from such cuts.

“These provisions would implement payment reductions to hospitals and physicians, but do not address the high prices set by drug companies,” AHA wrote.

In an op-ed that later appeared in STAT and on the U.S. Committee on Finance website, Grassley wrote “As a lawmaker with decades of congressional service, I’ve been nosing around the ledgers long enough to know that the federal treasury is too often considered a cash cow. Once the spigot is turned on, it’s nearly impossible to turn it off, and it takes robust vigilance to watch where the dollars flow.”