As soon as Friday, Congress is expected to pass Medicare prescription drug price reforms as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). [Editorial update: The House passed the legislation on Aug. 12, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on Aug. 16.] The reforms are less ambitious than previous versions of drug pricing legislation considered by the current Congress, but various experts and health care stakeholders are mounting vehement arguments about the reforms’ ultimate impact on prices.
Under the bill, HHS would be able to negotiate the price of a gradually increasing number of drugs starting in 2026, when 10 drugs will be eligible for negotiation. The bill would also limit out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare Advantage and Part D beneficiaries to $2,000 per year, and repeal the so-called rebate rule in Medicare Part D. In addition, the proposal would bar Medicare Part B and Part D drug prices from growing faster than inflation. In a summary of the late version of the reconciliation bill, Senate Democrats estimated that the drug pricing reform program would save $288 billion over 10 years.