Prepared Remarks by U.S.
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance
Corridor Business Journal
Health Care Summit
Friday, February 14, 2020
you for inviting me to speak at this year’s Corridor Business Journal Health
proud of the businesses that are key to economic activity in the Corridor and
across our state.
here today to talk about my efforts to lower prescription drug costs.
marks the start of my 40th year holding an hour-long Q&A in each of Iowa’s
stories I’ve heard at my 99 county meetings over the past few years are the
reason I’ve made lowering the cost of prescription drugs a top priority in my
role as chairman of the Finance Committee.
too many Iowans have to choose between paying for prescription drugs and
people with diabetes are dangerously rationing the insulin they need to
is unacceptable, and it has to stop.
with Ranking Member Wyden, I’m working to lower prescription drug costs in
Medicare and Medicaid.
asked tough questions.
process resulted in a bipartisan bill that passed the Finance Committee in July
Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act takes a commonsense approach by
keeping what works and improving what doesn’t.
bill modernizes the successful Medicare Part D program in a number of ways.
caps out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, protecting them from bankruptcy and
providing peace of mind.
increases the incentives for prescription drug plans and drug companies to
negotiate the lowest prices.
requires drug companies that increase their price above inflation to rebate the
difference back to Medicare.
doesn’t set the price for a drug or tell a company what it can charge.
protects taxpayers and patients from price gouging and makes Medicare more
bill prohibits pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, from the unfair practice of
retroactively taking back a portion of what it paid a pharmacy long after it
dispensed the drug.
these “DIR” clawbacks lowers patient costs and provides payment predictability
that is needed to run a business.
who get drugs administered in the hospital outpatient department or in a
doctor’s office also benefit from the bill.
bill makes improvement to the formula that determines the Medicare Part B
payment for these drugs.
changes reduce Medicare spending and lower out-of-pocket costs for patients
with serious conditions like cancer.
bill tackles gaming in Medicaid by prohibiting PBMs from charging more than
they actually pay for drugs.
also takes the important step of allowing state Medicaid programs to pay for
novel but expensive gene therapies over a period of time – instead of all
provides states with flexibility to make sure patients can access breakthrough
treatments –many of which are one-treatment cures – without blowing the state
budget in any one year.
Grassley-Wyden bill also increases transparency across the drug supply chain.
companies will have to publicly justify high prices.
will have to demonstrate that they are free of conflicts of interest.
will promote more accountability and competition.
expect the numbers from Congress’ non-partisan scorekeeper, the Congressional
Budget Office, soon.
from what we already know, Grassley-Wyden will reduce federal spending and
lower patient out-of-pocket costs by tens of billions of dollars.
will do this without increasing beneficiary premiums.
CBO has stated that the changes will reduce prescription drug spending in the
want to highlight that the bill has all these positive effects for patients and
taxpayers while preserving the ability of drug companies to innovate.
bill provides relief from the high cost of existing drugs without extinguishing
patient hope for the next breakthrough treatment or miracle cure.
strikes this critical balance and makes it the bill that can pass both chambers
of Congress and be signed into law.
his State of the Union address, President Trump called on Congress to put
bipartisan legislation on his desk.
President specifically mentioned my work on this bill.
President Pence followed up with an endorsement of the bill the very next day.
had good conversations with Republican senators, but these recent developments
provide crucial momentum.
working hard to build support.
job is to show Majority Leader McConnell that the bill can pass the Senate and
that it should be brought to the floor for a vote.
Congress passed legislation to fund the government and address other issues in
December of last year, it deliberately set a May deadline to get prescription
drug pricing done.
are at a critical time. Momentum is building.
won’t be easy, but Congress needs to act to give Iowans and all Americans the
relief from the burden of prescription drug costs that they need and deserve.
you again for inviting me. I’m ready for questions.
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