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September 13, 2021

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra releases plan for addressing high drug prices, outlining potential legislative and regulatory actions

On September 10, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released a "Comprehensive Plan for Addressing High Drug Prices," in response to President Biden's Executive Order (EO) on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The EO instructed the Secretary to submit "a plan to continue the effort to combat excessive pricing of prescription drugs and enhance domestic pharmaceutical supply chains, to reduce the prices paid by the Federal Government for such drugs, and to address the recurrent problem of price gouging." The plan presents guiding principles for equitable drug pricing reform; describes promising legislative approaches; and summarizes actions already underway or under consideration across HHS.

In announcing the plan, Secretary Becerra said, "The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making health care more affordable for American families, and this plan outlines one key way we will do that. By promoting negotiation, competition, and innovation in the health care industry, we will ensure cost fairness and protect access to care." The plan echoes earlier drug pricing proposals offered by the Biden administration, including allowing the Secretary of HHS to negotiate Medicare Part B and Part D drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies and making those prices available to other purchasers. The plan also expresses support for legislative policies aimed at tamping down on anti-competitive practices, increasing transparency across the pharmaceutical supply chain, and capping costs for seniors. It also outlines additional administrative tools at HHS's disposal such as testing value-based payment models in Medicare Part B and continuing to enhance and improve upon the approval process for generic drugs.

Additional details are available in the attached Tax Alert.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Heather Meade (
   • Laura Dillon (


Prescription drug plan