ALLvanza is an organization that advocates for policies that address the priorities of underserved communities across the United States. And as such, we are concerned about the current drug pricing proposal being advanced in the Senate. While we strongly agree with senators’ objective to reduce drug prices and lower out-of-pocket costs for patients, this proposal’s methodology is largely reflective of House legislation (H.R. 3), which ALLvanza has previously opposed on the grounds it would restrict patient access to lifesaving treatments as well as new innovative medications and therapies.
Millions of Americans depend on the Medicare program to access lifesaving treatments, and the proposed reconciliation bill includes provisions that would allow HHS to institute federal price controls, a policy that threatens the health care needs of underserved populations across the country in exchange for short-term political gain. As a result, access to invaluable treatment options could be restricted, undermining the level of care for the very individuals this proposal claims to help. At particular risk are members of Latinx community, who suffer from chronic illness at higher rates than other members of the U.S. population. Approximately half of Latinx adults in this country live with an underlying condition, like diabetes and lung disease.
The implementation of overly broad drug pricing proposals, modeled after healthcare systems in countries with socialized healthcare, is not the answer to rising prescription drug costs. Medicare beneficiaries in disadvantaged communities must be able to continue to receive unfettered access to critical medication, and must not have their needs ignored or undermined by proposed reforms. The drug price negotiation provisions outlined in the proposal threaten the development of new drugs that could improve the lives of countless communities waiting for cures and innovative treatment options. Rather than helping those most in need, this legislation would create barriers between patients and the medications they rely on. We, at ALLvanza, welcome the proposal’s inclusion of patient-centric policies such as implementing a Medicare Part D out-of-pocket cap; however, we were dismayed to see this proposal, unlike other previous efforts aimed at bringing about this important change for beneficiaries, would delay relief until 2025.
Congress should focus on meaningful reforms that would address vulnerable patients’ affordability concerns, such as reforming the drug rebate system, currently plagued by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), middlemen who between 2014-2018 earned even higher equity returns than drugmakers. Rebate reform will be an essential step toward helping underserved communities access and afford their medication by reigning in PBM’s predatory practices. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on future legislative proposals to achieve the objective of reducing healthcare costs for patients.