GOP senators call for hearings on bipartisan insulin cost bill
Five GOP senators are calling on the Senate Finance Committee to hold hearings on bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of insulin.
Led by Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.), and John Barrasso (Wyo.), the Republicans said they were concerned the legislation from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote without going through the committee first.
“As with most proposals regarding drug pricing, [Shaheen and Collins’s] proposed changes involve trade-offs and far-ranging implications, which both deserve frank discussion,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Medicare, and the legislation would radically change Medicare’s drug benefit, the senators said.
The other Republicans on the letter were Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Steve Daines (Mont.).
The Collins-Shaheen bill would cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 per month and aims to lower the overall cost of the drug by eliminating rebates drugmakers pay to pharmacy benefit managers if they keep the price below a certain level.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month said the bill would come to the floor “very soon.”
But the bill will require support from at least nine other Republican senators in order to clear a filibuster, and it’s not clear there are enough votes for that to happen.
Some Republicans have voiced concerns about the bill’s interference in the free market.
At the same time, Democrats are moving forward with a separate drug pricing plan they hope to pass under a process known as reconciliation, which would bypass a GOP filibuster, meaning it needs only 50 Democratic votes.
The reconciliation plan does not include insulin price caps.