Another hurdle occurred for Democrats’ efforts to limit prescription prices for 180 million Americans with private medical insurance.
The Numbers Game
Following discussions from both sides the other week, the Senate parliamentarian determined on Saturday a key component of the party’s proposal cannot pass the assembly with fewer than 60 members.
The impartial parliamentarian’s vetting implies the foundation of the plan Democrats are trying to guide past the GOP cloture vote is fully cleared for debate in parliament.
This comes over a year since they started drafting the much more comprehensive version. It is a setback for the Democrat Party that wished to run for office this fall on reducing drug prices for all Americans.
However, the clause that would have punished drugmakers for raising prices ahead of inflation in Medicare, as well as insurance providers, would no longer be part of the plan.
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Democrats are adding taxes to imported oil.
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There isn’t much left that will reduce premiums for the vast majority of Americans who access health insurance through their business in the private sector; the private insurance rate limits are excluded.
Democrats are still awaiting a separate ruling from a legislator over their plan to regulate insulin prices inside and outside of Medicaid.
The ruling also results in billions and billions less in overall government savings, which could put Democrats’ goal of covering the cost of strengthening Obamacare’s payments in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, Democrats contend the bill’s most crucial provision — removal of the long-standing prohibition on the national gov’t directly negotiating medication pricing with pharmaceutical companies — will still be implemented in the upcoming weeks.
Dems are Happy
In a statement on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed the judge’s decision as “excellent news.”
The measure “would breach the communist regime Big Pharma erected from negotiating medication pricing and that’s game-changing,” said Rep. Peter Welch, a key mediator on the House reform bill.
Pharma won’t be able to continuously take advantage of consumers at their whim and will if it succeeds. Given how hard inflation is hitting people at the gas pump and the local grocery store, that is especially crucial.
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Welch, who is vying to succeed retiring Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, noted the parliamentarian’s decision is nevertheless a significant victory for the pharmaceutical industry.
In the days before the vote, he stated in an interview, “It would effectively mean pharma corporations could hike price rises way beyond rising prices.”
Through a procedure known on Capitol Hill as a “Byrd bath,” drug firms and Republican senators planned for a long time to attack the inflation ceilings provision.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and top Republican senator from Idaho, Sen. Mike Crapo, told journalists they combed over the bill “line by line” in an attempt to bring up every objection they could.