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March 17, 2022

Senate Finance Committee hearing on prescription drug price inflation | An urgent need to lower drug prices in Medicare

On March 16, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled, "Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare." During the hearing, Democrats called on Congress to pass reforms in the Build Back Better Act, including giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, setting penalties for drugmakers whose prices rise faster than inflation, and capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin. Republicans, meanwhile, criticized proposals to give Medicare negotiating authority, saying such policies would result in rate-setting and harm pharmaceutical innovation. Several Republican committee members called for bipartisan reforms included in the 2019 Grassley-Wyden drug pricing legislation, as well as policies to put in place market incentives to improve existing negotiation and inflation.

The witnesses discussed a range of policy solutions. The Republican witnesses, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Stephen Ezell, also raised concerns about the impact Medicare drug price negotiation would have on innovation and the generic drug market. Instead, they suggested policies to promote competition and align incentives, including Medicare Part D reforms, restructuring drug rebates, giving the Federal Trade Commission authority to prosecute monopoly abuses, improving drugmakers' access to data to facilitate drug discovery, and more. The Democratic witnesses, meanwhile, discussed the need for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and cited data showing such policies would not hinder drug innovation.

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Additional information is also available in the attached Tax Alert.


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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Heather Meade (
   • Heather Bell (


Hearing on prescription drug price inflation