Democrats outline plan to bypass GOP obstruction to regulate drug prices and expand Medicare benefits
SEnat Democrats on Monday unveiled plans to bypass Republican obstructions to enact legislation expanding medicare and giving the federal government the power to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs.
“We will save taxpayers hundreds of billions by requiring Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, and we will use those savings to expand Medicare by covering dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses that people elderly in desperate need ” noted Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders.
Democratic plans to expand the government’s health programs were included in their budget proposal for fiscal year 2022. The budget is not law and is not binding, but its approval would unlock a legislative process that would allow Democrats pass a law by a simple majority in the Senate, which means they could bypass the filibuster.
Specific cost estimates for health measures were not included in the master plan, but it spent around $ 726 billion on the Senate committee on health, education, work and pensions, which has a broad competence in health care.
One of the most ambitious and controversial measures would be to give Medicare, which provides health coverage to people over the age of 65, the power to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical industry for lower prices for drugs on the market. order.
The push to allow direct price negotiations between drug companies and the federal government angered the Conservatives as well as the powerful lobbying arm of the industry PhRMA, who say innovation in drug development would suffer. Democrats have repeatedly demanded the government’s pricing power for years without success. It was a cornerstone of the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now, or HR 3, legislation, which was never passed in the Senate.
Democrats will also pass a measure that would add coverage for hearing tests, most dental procedures such as cleanings and fillings, and eye exams for seniors who need prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses. corneal. These services are not normally covered by traditional health insurance, requiring patients who wish to benefit from this coverage to purchase either a Medicare Advantage plan or a private insurance plan. A Democratic summary of the plan also said it would lower the age of Medicare eligibility.
Senate Democrats are expected to pass the resolution this week without any Republican votes this week.
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Original author: Cassidy Morrison