Grassley On The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019
Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Markup for The
Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019
Thursday, July 25,
2003, when we first passed the Medicare Modernization Act that I
authored in the Senate, our goal was to make the first improvements to the
Medicare program in nearly 40 years.
wanted to give seniors an affordable option that worked like the health
insurance they had in the places from which they retired.
wanted to make sure that the legislation benefited all seniors and we put into
place a mechanism to keep the price of drugs down.
Part D, private insurers negotiate with drug manufacturers to get the best
price on drugs so that premiums stay affordable.
has worked very well.
in the Part D program have been remarkably stable since the program’s
inception, despite claims from naysayers at the time that premiums would skyrocket.
we should keep what’s working and fix what can be improved.
the fifteen years since the last major reform to Medicare, we’ve seen the
development of innovative medicines to treat arthritis, cancer and countless
treatments have been lifesaving or life changing for millions of Americans.
they have come with increased costs.
includes increased out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries and increased taxpayer
of us on this committee have heard from our constituents about the high cost of
heard from Iowans who have left prescriptions at the pharmacy counter or who
skipped doses of their medicine to save money.
the first hearing we held this year, we heard from a mother whose son reduced
his insulin use because he was concerned about the financial burden placed on
his family by the cost.
I became chairman of this committee again this year, I said that addressing
high drug prices was one of my top priorities.
also said that any effort to tackle such a problem needed to be bipartisan, go
through regular order and be marked up before the August work period.
want to thank the senators on this committee who I’ve worked with to craft this
have a bill before us that addresses high and rising prescription drug prices
in a bipartisan manner.
last count, there are
over two dozen proposals in the legislation that are supported by at
least one Republican and one Democrat on the committee.
included many of our member priorities in the bill.
we will consider legislation that will improve Medicare Part D by bringing the
payment system up to date with the therapies that are now available.
do this by capping out-of-pocket expenses for seniors and people with
disabilities, permanently closing the donut hole, keeping premiums from
increasing and using taxpayer dollars more efficiently.
Part B, we are shifting incentives toward use of less expensive, but equally
also want to manage the costs to taxpayers.
want more transparency about what goes into a drug price, including information
from manufacturers and middlemen such as pharmacy benefit managers.
to the CBO, this bill will save taxpayers more than $100 billion, lower
premiums, lower out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries and provide
peace of mind to millions of seniors who
will never have to worry about going bankrupt to pay for medication.
will even help lower costs in the commercial market.
a win for all Americans.
the naysayers who claim our bill contains price controls, I want to submit
for the record an analysis by the conservative economist, Avik Roy, who does a
good job rebutting that argument.
second comment is about proposals to tie U.S. drug prices to international
have a couple of serious concerns about those proposals.
of all, we don’t know much about what they are or how they would work.
I worry that one unintended consequence could be a loss of innovation.
is the moment for the Senate Finance Committee to act.
have jurisdiction over all of Medicare and Medicaid, so what we do here today
we move on, I want to make a special point of thanking the Ranking Member,
Senator Wyden. You have been a good partner in this bipartisan effort.
said, the administration threw us a curve ball a couple of weeks ago when they
did not finalize a proposed rule.
rule would have ensured that the savings from rebates in the Part D program
would be passed through to benefit seniors at the pharmacy counter.
believe that is a good idea.
Wyden, I would like to continue to work with you to get a similar policy into
our legislation before it becomes law.
would also like to address the unfair clawback practices that affect
pharmacists who are trying to take care of their patients.
hope you will agree to work with me on that one too.
only option is to act, now.
American people are counting on us.
is the time to decide if we actually want to reduce drug prices for people, or
just give the problem lip service.