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CBO: Pelosi bill to lower drug prices saves Medicare $345 billion

A preliminary analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that the core provision of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOklahoma man who videotaped himself with his feet on desk in Pelosi's office during Capitol riot released on bond House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot With another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law MORE’s (D-Calif.) signature bill to lower drug prices would save Medicare $345 billion between 2023 and 2029.

Democrats quickly touted the projected savings to show that their bill would effectively lower drug prices. 

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House Democrats are steaming forward on the bill, and hope to bring it to a vote in the House as soon as the end of the month. The measure is one of their top priorities, and one they have touted as showing they are focused on kitchen table issues even as they pursue an impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE

The analysis is preliminary and does not take into account the entire bill, but it does analyze its main provision, which would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices on up to 250 drugs per year, with savings applied to both Medicare and people on private insurance plans. 

Republicans countered by pointing to another part of the CBO’s analysis, which found that the measure would reduce research and development of new drugs. The CBO estimate that drug companies’ revenues would be reduced by between $500 billion and $1 trillion over 10 years, leading to eight to 15 fewer new drugs coming to market over the next 10 years, out of about 300 total new drugs over that period.

“In the short term, lower prices would increase use of drugs and improve people’s health,” the CBO wrote. “In the longer term, CBO estimates that the reduction in manufacturers’ revenues from title I would result in lower spending on research and development and thus reduce the introduction of new drugs.”

The resulting effect is not certain, the agency wrote. “The overall effect on the health of families in the United States that would stem from increased use of prescription drugs but decreased availability of new drugs is unclear,” the CBO wrote. 

The bill would also likely result in lower premiums for people with private insurance, the CBO wrote, though it said it is still working on a more complete analysis of the bill. 

“This initial analysis proves that H.R. 3 will effectively rein in the soaring cost of prescription drugs and level the playing field for American patients,” three House Democratic chairmen, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine MORE (N.J.), Richard NealRichard Edmund NealJudge says Treasury must give Trump 72 hours before releasing tax info to Democrats Trump's lawyers seek clarity about how tax-return case will proceed following Biden inauguration IRS says start of tax filing season delayed until Feb. 12 MORE (Mass.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair National reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Trump officials approve Georgia plan to remove healthcare.gov as enrollment option MORE (Va.) said in a statement, referring to the bill’s formal title. “Not only will H.R. 3 save consumers money, it will also provide tremendous savings to American taxpayers.”

In addition, an analysis of the bill from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' actuary found that the bill would save American households $158 billion over 10 years through lower premiums and out of pocket spending on drugs, and that total U.S. spending on health care would decline by $480 billion under the bill.

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyCapitol Police tribute turns political K Street navigates virtual inauguration week Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee countered Friday: “CBO’s report confirms House Democrats’ ‘dictate or destroy’ price controls only serve to hurt the development of future cures and damage American innovation.”

Congressional Republicans have said they want to work with Democrats on much smaller drug pricing legislation, for example speeding the introduction of cheaper generic drugs. Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products | GOP lawmakers push back on Federal Reserve's climate risk efforts Bipartisan fix for 'surprise' medical bills hits roadblock MORE (R-Ore.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said there are other bills "already agreed to by Republicans and Democrats" that could pass. Republicans have denounced Pelosi’s measure, in contrast, as “socialist.”

Pelosi is still hoping that if Trump, who has railed against high drug prices, endorses the bill, it would put pressure on congressional Republicans. Still, the measure faces dim hopes in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses McConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to block it.