‘Inflation Reduction Act’ set for Senate vote Saturday

The bill is broad and includes climate change, energy, health care costs and even reducing the deficit as Democrats hope to secure a major victory before the midterm elections.

WASHINGTON — The Senate lawmaker narrowed Democrats’ plan to cut drug prices but left it mostly intact on Saturday, Democrats said as party leaders prepared to get their sweeping economic bill through the chamber.

Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber’s arbitrator, said provisions that would force drugmakers to pay rebates if their prices for products they sell to private insurers rise above inflation need to be removed. Drug companies would have to pay these penalties if their prices for drugs purchased from Medicare went too high.

Other restrictions related to rising drug costs remained in place, including the ability to let Medicare negotiate the cost of the drugs it buys, capping spending on seniors and providing free vaccines.

“This is a great victory for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said in a statement. “While there was an unfortunate decision that the inflation rebate be more limited in scope, the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and driving down Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.”

The lawmaker’s decision came after a 10-day period in which Democrats revived key components of President Joe Biden’s domestic political agenda after they appeared dead. In quick deals with the two most unpredictable Democratic senators — first West Virginia conservative Joe Manchin, then Arizona centrist Kyrsten Sinema — Schumer put together a far-reaching package that addressed climate change, energy, health care costs and even deficit reduction against the backdrop of the Congressional elections this fall.

The abolition of penalties for drug manufacturers for price hikes by private insurers was a clear setback for the Democrats. The decision reduces pharmaceutical companies’ incentives to limit their fees, increasing costs for patients.

It will also reduce the $288 billion in savings over 10 years that Democrats estimated would generate from overall drug restrictions — perhaps by tens of billions of dollars, analysts said.

Still, the MP’s decision has enabled Democrats to tout the drug rules as a boon to consumers at a time when voters are furious about the worst inflation in four decades.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that while he was “disappointed” that penalties for higher drug prices for privately insured consumers were dropped, “the legislation compromised Big Pharma’s ability to lower prices significantly restricted”.

Schumer planned to begin Senate voting on the federal bill later on Saturday. The measure faces unanimous opposition from Republicans, but with the support of Manchin and Sinema, Democrats should be able to get the measure through the Senate thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ landmark 50-50 vote.

The home run could come if this chamber returns briefly from break on Friday.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/dem-economic-bill/507-6bcb9aec-312a-4c29-83e2-8ac51ae72e68 ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ set for Senate vote Saturday

Alley Einstein

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