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Drug Pricing Legislation: What to Expect and When

by CQ Roll Call staff, CQ News

Senate committees move on drug pricing legislation. Drug pricing rule could come soon.

Two influential Senate committees are holding markups this week related to the rising cost of health care — including prescription drugs and surprise medical billing — before Congress leaves for the Independence Day recess.

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will consider two bills. The first (S 1895) is a two pronged-bipartisan package from Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray, which would protect patients from high out-of-network deductibles in emergencies and curb surprise billing. It also looks to ensure generics are easier to access and approved more quickly. In addition, the committee will mark up another bipartisan health care bill (S 1173) reauthorizing funding for emergency
medical services for children.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up four bills related to drug pricing that would study the pharmaceutical supply chain (S 1227), prevent patent abuse (S 440), help foster competition among generics (S 1224) and prohibit anticompetitive behavior by drugmakers (S 1416).

A contentious Trump administration drug pricing rule moved to the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday, bringing it one step closer to implementation. The rule, which would peg prices under Medicare Part B to the lower prices paid in other nations, has gotten a mixed reaction from Republican lawmakers and some interest groups since President Donald Trump announced the initial idea last year.

Last week Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley announced he opposed the idea, and is working on his own drug pricing legislation with ranking member Ron Wyden that they plan to release next month. It's unclear how long OMB's review of the rule will take and if it will result in any major changes to the proposed rule.

This post originally appeared in the 6/24/19 Morning Edition of CQ Roll Call's Healthcare Newsletter

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