Grassley, Wyden working on plan to cap seniors' drug costs in Medicare

Grassley, Wyden working on plan to cap seniors' drug costs in Medicare
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Trump: 'Great to see' Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) is working on a bipartisan plan to cap seniors’ expenses for prescription drugs in Medicare as part of a broader effort to lower drug prices.

Grassley told The Hill on Wednesday that one idea he is working on with Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Microsoft to provide free updates for voting systems running Windows 7 through 2020 Interior watchdog investigating political appointees' review of FOIA requests MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel, is “some sort of maximum amount that one person would have to pay” for drugs.

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His comments provide a new level of detail on the closely watched talks with Wyden as the two senators prepare a package to lower drug prices that Grassley hopes to release and mark up in the Finance Committee next month.

A source familiar with the talks said the lawmakers are discussing drug pricing changes in Medicare Part D, Medicare Part B and Medicaid.

Capping Medicare Part D enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs has long been a priority for Wyden, who previously proposed legislation to limit seniors’ costs to around $2,650 a year. More than 1 million seniors in 2015 paid more than $3,000 for their Medicare drugs, according to Wyden’s office.

When it comes to Medicare Part B, the section that covers drugs administered in doctors' offices, the two senators are looking at ways to change the incentives in the program, which have been widely criticized as encouraging doctors to prescribe higher-priced drugs since they get paid more for those medications.

Drug pricing is seen as one of the few issues that could see bipartisan action this year. President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE has long railed against high drug prices, and Democrats have also made the issue a priority.

In addition to the Grassley-Wyden discussions, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden blasts Trump, demands he release transcript of call with foreign leader Pelosi wants to change law to allow a sitting president to be indicted Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes | Senators press FDA to pull most e-cigarettes immediately | House panel tees up e-cig hearing for next week MORE (D-Calif.) is in talks with the White House about trying to reach a deal on legislation for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, another high priority for congressional Democrats.