The Senate lawmaker killed a key aspect of the plan proposed by Democrats to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices on Saturday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Saturday morning that Rep. Elizabeth McDonough had released her guidance saying the inflation deduction aspect of the Democrats’ legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, should be more limited in scope.
“While there was an unfortunate decision that the inflation discount is more limited in scope, the overall program remains intact and we are one step closer to finally taking on Big Pharma and lowering Rx drug prices for millions of Americans.” he said.
Mr. Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced their agreement on the legislation last Wednesday, with a key part of the legislation being that Medicare would be allowed to negotiate drug prices.
In addition, the legislation would require drug companies to return to Medicare the difference between the rate of inflation and the increase in the price of the drug if it raises prices higher than the rate of inflation.
Democrats, who have only 50 senators, hope to pass their legislation through a process called fiscal reconciliation, which would allow them to pass the legislation with a simple majority and bypass a Republican filibuster. But that requires a united front from all senators, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie.
To do this, the Senate congresswoman must submit the bill to a “Byrd Bath” where she determines whether the legislation is budgeted or considered “extraneous matter.” The Senate congressman’s direction is nonbinding, but requires the vice president to override the congressman, which is unlikely to happen.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he kept the Senate out of session on Friday to give Ms. McDonough a chance to thoroughly review the legislation, but that the Senate would vote on the proposal to move forward, which would begin debate. , on Saturday.
Democrats are currently waiting for Ms. McDonough to issue her guidance on Senator Raphael Warnock’s legislation that would cap the price of insulin for people with diabetes at $35. Mr Warnock faces a tough re-election in Georgia in November.