War supplemental includes pay-for-delay ban, other healthcare measures

The War supplemental bill passed by the House just before the July recess would restrict drug makers’ ability to pay their generic competitors for delaying the introduction of cheaper generics, among several health-related provisions. House and Senate leaders have said passing a war supplemental bill before the August recess is a priority, but it’s not likely to happen this week.

The so-called “Pay for Delay” provision would strengthen the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to restrict the practice. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this would save the federal government more than $2.4 billion over 10 years in lower drug costs for Medicare, Medicaid, military and veterans’ health programs; a 2009 study found that such a ban would save American consumers $35 billion over 10 years.

The ban was part of the House-passed healthcare reform bill that did not pass the Senate. Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have championed it in the Senate and tried to get it passed as an amendment to the tax extenders bill, which failed before the July recess.

The war supplemental also includes $22 million to help the Mine Safety and Health Administration reverse its growing backlog of mine safety enforcement cases. That provision was also in the war supplemental passed by the Senate earlier.

Finally, the House bill would require higher rebates from drug makers who participate in Medicaid, saving the federal government $2.1 billion over 10 years. The provision affects inhalation, infusion and injectable drugs dispensed outside pharmacies and was included in the tax extenders bill that failed in the Senate before the July recess.