Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s proposed "Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act" has idled in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since the former Florida Governor filed the bill in May.
But Scott’s proposal, which would require pharmaceutical companies charge no more for drugs in the U.S. than they charge in other countries, may gain momentum in 2020 with last week’s filing of a companion bill in the House.
U.S. Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, on Nov. 22 introduced a House version of Scott’s bill, which he said will bring “accountability to our broken drug pricing system.”
“The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the biggest challenges facing our communities,” Joyce said in a statement.
“On top of that,” he continued, “it’s next to impossible for patients to know the real cost of medications before they receive them. You wouldn’t buy a car – or make any other major purchase – without knowing how much it cost, so why do we force patients to make critical choices about their health without having that same information?”
Joyce’s bill was assigned to the House Energy & Commerce Committee last week. It has not been issued a bill designation as yet.
In addition to tying American drug prices to what companies sell the same pharmaceuticals for in other countries, particularly Canada, Great Britain and Germany, Scott’s S. 1664 would require pharmacies inform patients of what the drugs would cost if they paid retail, out-of-pocket prices at the counter, instead of using their insurance and copay.
The bill calls for insurance companies to inform patients of the total costs of their prescription drugs 60 days prior to open enrollment periods for insurance plans.
“The ‘Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act’ will create transparency in pharmaceutical prices by creating a central federal database website,” Scott’s office explained. “The database will include pharmaceutical list prices, average net price, and aggregate manufacturer rebates.”
The proposal, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, would also ensure drug companies have to offer the rationale behind price increases.
“Each manufacturer of a prescription drug will be required to report financial and non-financial factors for the price change,” Scott’s office said.
When he introduced the bill during a May news conference in Fort Myers, Scott said, “There’s no reason patients shouldn’t know exactly what their prescription drugs cost before they get to the pharmacy. Today, I’m introducing the Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act to give patients the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.”
He appealed for bipartisan support.
“Even in the hyper-partisan, dysfunctional world of Washington, D.C., creating more transparency in the health care system is something we must get done now to help families across our nation,” Scott said.
Last week, Joyce echoed the same sentiment.
“By working together across party lines, we can empower patients with the information and tools they need to choose the care that best fits their personal health needs and financial situations,” Joyce added. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the administration to give patients the affordability they need, the options they want and the quality they deserve.”
Since joining the U.S. Senate in January, Scott has proposed several healthcare-related bills, including the ‘We PAID Act of 2019’ on July 31 with co-sponsor Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.
The proposed bill, which has not receive a number designation or been assigned to committees, would direct the National Academy of Medicine to study how to determine the “reasonableness” of a drug’s price, considering factors such as:
• Federal funding used in the development of the drug;
• Affordability of the drug to consumers;
• The price of the drug in other similar, industrialized countries.
The bill seeks to establish an independent Drug Affordability & Access Committee to “determine a reasonable price” for each applicable drug, based on the results of the National Academy of Medicine study.
Last week, Scott and the Heritage Foundation released an online video blasting Democrats for their continued support for the Affordable Care Act.
“Under Barack Obama, when he ran in 2008, he promised ‘oh gosh, if Obamacare was passed, every family was going to save $2,500’ (and nobody would lose their doctor by the way). Did either of these two things happen? Nope, you lost your doctor, and health care costs skyrocketed,” Scott said.
Scott said 4.7 million people lost their doctors in 2014. He said the 14 Democratic senators pushing “Medicare for All” will “ruin health care for everybody.”