Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is working on a bipartisan plan to cap seniors’ expenses for prescription drugs in Medicare as part of a broader effort to lower drug prices.
Grassley told The Hill on Wednesday that one idea he is working on with Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel, is “some sort of maximum amount that one person would have to pay” for drugs.
His comments provide a new level of detail on the closely watched talks with Wyden as the two senators prepare a package to lower drug prices that Grassley hopes to release and mark up in the Finance Committee next month.
A source familiar with the talks said the lawmakers are discussing drug pricing changes in Medicare Part D, Medicare Part B and Medicaid.
Capping Medicare Part D enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs has long been a priority for Wyden, who previously proposed legislation to limit seniors’ costs to around $2,650 a year. More than 1 million seniors in 2015 paid more than $3,000 for their Medicare drugs, according to Wyden’s office.
When it comes to Medicare Part B, the section that covers drugs administered in doctors’ offices, the two senators are looking at ways to change the incentives in the program, which have been widely criticized as encouraging doctors to prescribe higher-priced drugs since they get paid more for those medications.
Drug pricing is seen as one of the few issues that could see bipartisan action this year. President Trump has long railed against high drug prices, and Democrats have also made the issue a priority.
In addition to the Grassley-Wyden discussions, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is in talks with the White House about trying to reach a deal on legislation for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, another high priority for congressional Democrats.