U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Thursday reintroduced bipartisan legislation co-authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020, which originally passed out of the committee on a bipartisan 19-9 vote, including all committee Democrats.
Joining McSally and Grassley in introducing the bipartisan legislation as original co-sponsors are Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Braun (R-IN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Recently, Democrats walked away from the negotiating table at the direction of their party’s leadership and refused to join in the reintroduction of the bipartisan legislation they co-authored for fear of helping Republicans and removing a line of partisan political attack for the November elections.
“I have heard from Arizonans across the state that the rising cost of prescription drugs is among their most pressing concerns,” McSally said. “Far too many seniors and hard-working individuals in our state are having to choose between buying groceries and purchasing their medications. As an original cosponsor of Senator Grassley’s bill, I am committed to holding big pharma accountable for their exorbitant drug costs and ensuring that Arizonans can afford the medicines they need. This is even more important now during the pandemic and resulting economic challenges that are squeezing family and fixed-income senior budgets even more.”
“Democrats’ election year political games aren’t going to get in the way of our moving forward on behalf of the American people to lower prescription drug prices this Congress,” Grassley said. “The coronavirus pandemic makes our bipartisan work all the more urgent and necessary. There’s no better time to address health care affordability than in a public health crisis. With millions of Americans unemployed and facing the threat of coronavirus, affording their prescription medicine should be the least of their concern. Our bipartisan bill would provide peace of mind to so many Americans. Congress must put politics aside and finally act to lower prescription drug prices in the next coronavirus relief bill.”
“I’m proud to be joining my colleagues on a meaningful effort to reduce prescription drug costs. From commonsense ideas like my REFUND Act to an out-of-pocket cap on spending in Part D, these are real reforms that can save Americans money at the doctor’s office or at the pharmacy counter, and applaud Chairman Grassley for his leadership on this bill. I’m disappointed that Senator Wyden and Senate Democrats have chosen to play politics with what was a bipartisan bill less than a year ago. In order to make progress on this issue we must come together to address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs,” Portman said.
“Now more than ever patients need access to affordable drugs. PDPRA saves patients tens of billions of dollars in prescription drug spending. Unfortunately, Democrats walked away from the negotiating table, putting politics before patients. I look forward to continuing to advocate for patients and push forward with anyone who is serious about lowering the costs of prescription drugs,” Dr. Cassidy said.
“The last thing Montanans should be worrying about is whether or not they can afford their prescription drugs, especially during these challenging times,” Daines said. “That’s why I’m continuing my work to lower the costs of prescription drugs so Montanans can get the life-saving medications they need without hurting their pocket books.”
“Throughout my 99 County Tour, during tele-town halls, or in conversations around the kitchen table with my family members who depend on life-saving medications, Iowans have made it clear that they want to see Congress take action to lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. This issue has been a top priority for me and it’s why I’ve been working across the aisle on a number of proposals. While we’ve made some progress, there’s more work to do,” Ernst said. “COVID-19 has reminded us all too much of the need to address health care costs. This is no time for election year politics. Iowans want to see us lower the cost of health care, and I’m committed to working with my colleagues to do just that.”
“Skyrocketing drug prices are making it more and more difficult for Americans to access the treatments they require. As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, combatting the rising costs of these medications is one of my top priorities,” Collins said. “This bipartisan legislation addresses some of the most pressing problems in our health care system. It is a tremendous opportunity for Congress to deliver a decisive victory in lowering health care costs for the people of Maine and the entire nation.”
“I constantly hear from constituents who are struggling to afford their prescription medicines. The current drug pricing regime is leaving too many people behind,” Braun said. “The coronavirus pandemic lends even more urgency to our efforts to ensure lifesaving cures are affordable. Lifesaving pharmaceutical medicines won’t do a bit of good if people cannot afford them. One in four patients say they have difficulty paying for their prescription medicine. High-cost specialty drugs pose an even greater burden to patients and to the public purse.”
“The troubles caused by skyrocketing drug prices are a never ending source of worry and hardship for Mississippians and people across the country. The threat of the coronavirus pandemic has only increased that concern among my constituents,” Hyde-Smith said. “Chairman Grassley’s comprehensive bill to bringing affordability and fairness to the prescription drug market should be an immediate priority for us, as leaders, if we’re serious about helping patients afford the drugs they need.”
“The rising cost of drug prices must be addressed. I hear from far too many Alaskan families who worry about paying for life-saving treatments and from seniors who struggle to pay for their needed medication,” Murkowski said. “With Senator Grassley’s leadership we’re working to change that by taking steps to lower prescription drug costs. This bill would not only lower drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, but hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable and protect medical innovation. We must prioritize the health of patients and their pocketbooks.”
According to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020 would save taxpayers $95 billion, reduce out-of-pocket spending by $72 billion and reduce premiums by $1 billion. A full analysis by the CBO can be found HERE.
Text of the bipartisan legislation can be found HERE.
A section-by-section description of the legislation can be found HERE.
The bill has been endorsed by organizations spanning the political spectrum, from the senior group AARP to the libertarian Cato Institute. Other endorsements include America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Association for Accessible Medicine, the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing and Patients for Affordable Drugs Now.