Thanks to Vicki Mossman for alerting us to this story of shameless greed by drug industry lobbyists. Here are excerpts from Robert Pear’s account in the NY Times Sept. 24:
At issue is a small measure that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, has deemed a “technical correction” to a bipartisan budget law signed by President Trump in February. The law required drug manufacturers to provide deeper discounts to Medicare beneficiaries whose spending on prescription drugs falls within a range called the coverage gap, or the “doughnut hole.” The discount, now 50 percent on brand-name drugs, is set to rise next year to 70 percent.
The change sought by the drug industry has nothing to do with the scourge of opioids, but such provisions are often tucked quietly into popular, swiftly moving bills, then discovered months later… The proposal “will increase prescription drug costs for older Americans while providing a windfall of billions of dollars to the drug industry,” said AARP, the lobby for 38 million Americans 50 and older.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, said the relief for pharmaceutical companies would cost more than twice as much as the bill spends to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
The Congressional Budget Office had initially estimated that the requirement for drug companies to provide larger discounts would reduce federal spending on Medicare’s drug benefit by a total of $7.7 billion through 2027. Shortly after the law was enacted, the budget office discovered additional information and raised its estimate of the savings to $11.8 billion…
Drug makers argue that Congress intended to save just $7.7 billion and should now give back the $4 billion difference.