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November 2021

FACT SHEET: How The Build Back Better Act Delivers Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Build Back Better is a historic plan that will bring down prescription drug prices so people can afford the medicines they need. The Build Back Better bill gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, ensures no senior pays more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, and protects every American from egregious price increases for the drugs they need to survive. 

For 20 years, big drug companies have been able to dictate the price that Americans pay for prescription drugs and Americans pay three times more than people in other countries. That status-quo means patients can’t afford what they need to stay healthy, but that status-quo ends with this plan. Reining in Big Pharma’s greed will reduce racial inequities in health care, improve the health and well-being of seniors and people with disabilities, strengthen families, and save lives. 

Here Are The Three Main Ways Build Back Better Will Drive Down Drug Prices For Patients: 

1) Giving Medicare The Power To Negotiate Lower Drug Prices. For nearly 20 years, Medicare has been banned from negotiating the price of prescription drugs, and Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Americans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries. Under Build Back Better, Medicare will be empowered to negotiate prices for select drugs purchased at the pharmacy counter and administered at a doctor’s office. Beginning in 2025, 10 drugs, in addition to insulin, will be negotiated with that number increasing to 20 drugs in 2028 and into the future. Drug companies who refuse to come to the negotiating table will be subject to an excise tax.

2) Capping Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Seniors. Seniors with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis could save thousands of dollars on prescriptions under the Build Back Better Act. Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year. The redesign of Medicare Part D will also allow out-of-pocket spending to be smoothed over the course of the year, so patients are not forced to pay the entirety of their out-of-pocket cost at the beginning of the year. Insulin co-pays for all Americans with insurance will also be capped at $35 each month.

3) Putting An End To Runaway Price Increases. Build Back Better stops Big Pharma from raising price increases faster than the rate of inflation. For example, Humira, a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is one of the nation’s highest revenue generating drugs, raking in $21 billion in sales in 2019. AbbVie, Humira’s manufacturer, has hiked the price of Humira 27 times, including in January 2021 when it raised its cost by 7.4 percent. This cap would apply to all Americans, and is essential to stop arbitrary price increases on essential medications. Over the past 20 years, price increases for brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation.

IN THE NEWS: Democrats’ Historic Drug Pricing Deal Will Drive Down Costs for Patients Nationwide

Democrats to Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices in the Build Back Better Act

Democrats have reached a historic agreement to drive down prescription drug prices for the American people. For nearly 20 years, Medicare has been banned from negotiating the price of prescription drugs, and Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Americans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries. The Build Back Better Act will finally give Medicare the power to negotiate, and it will cap seniors out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per month, limit diabetic Medicare patients’ insulin costs to $35 per month, and end excessive price gouging of medicines for all Americans. 

Thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Democrats in Congress, Americans will finally see real relief at the pharmacy counter, and millions of families will no longer have to struggle to afford the medications they need to survive. 


Politico: ‘A Massive Step Forward’: Democrats Clinch Drug Pricing Deal. “Democrats on Tuesday announced an agreement on drug pricing reform, coming out in favor of allowing Medicare Part D to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for the first time since its creation, a move the drug industry has fought for nearly two decades.” [Politico, 11/2/21]

NPR: Democrats’ Deal On Prescription Drugs Would Lower Costs For Seniors. “The 2021 threshold is currently set at $6,500 for out-of-pocket drug costs, a number that activists in the health care space argue is too high and can still be detrimental to low- and middle-income Americans, for whom the program is designed. The White House in a Tuesday evening statement praised the compromise, calling the ban on direct negotiations between Medicare and drug makers an “unfair prohibition” that hurt American seniors.” [NPR, 11/2/21]

The New York Times: Democrats Add Drug Cost Curbs To Social Policy Plan, Pushing For Vote. “House Democrats reached a deal on Tuesday to add a measure to curb prescription drug costs to President Biden’s $1.85 trillion social safety net plan, agreeing to allow the government for the first time to negotiate prices for medications covered by Medicare as they pushed for a quick vote on the bill.” [The New York Times, 11/2/21]

The Washington Post: Democrats Announce Deal On Prescription Drug Pricing As Another Part Of Spending Plan Comes Into Focus. “Under the deal, the U.S. government would gain the ability to negotiate some drug prices on behalf of seniors who participate in Medicare. Such a power for the first time would give the benefit program leverage to drive down the price of medicine, allowing the federal government — along with millions of families — to save money.” [The Washington Post, 11/2/21]

Axios: Democrats’ Historic Compromise On Prescription Drug Prices. “The deal hits on Democrats’ three main pillars of drug price reform: It allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs, it puts a cap on how much drugmakers can hike prices in both Medicare and the commercial market, and it redesigns the Medicare Part D benefit in a way that significantly reduces seniors’ out-of-pocket costs.” [Axios, 11/3/21]

CNBC: Democrats Reach A Breakthrough Deal On Drug Prices, As Spending Bill Nears The Finish Line. “House and Senate Democrats reached a breakthrough agreement on lowering prescription drug prices Tuesday, putting an end to one of the party’s thorniest disputes in their $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill… The last-minute deal surprised Democrats outside of leadership, in part because Medicare negotiation powers were not part of a framework agreement that President Joe Biden had released last week…” [CNBC, 11/2/21]

Bloomberg: Democrats Reach Drug Pricing Deal Key To Vote On Biden Plan. “Schumer said the price of insulin will go from $600 per month to $35 under the deal, which also would put a $2,000 annual cap on Medicare drug costs. ‘By empowering Medicare to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part D, this deal will directly reduce out-of-pocket drug spending for millions of patients every time they visit the pharmacy or doctor,’ Schumer said.” [Bloomberg, 11/2/21]

The Washington Post: Democrats Are Delivering Action On Drug Prices To Voters. “The compromise reached yesterday allows Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs for the first time. The plan delivers a defeat to the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s a far cry from the sweeping reforms Democrats originally envisioned… Democrats pushing for a more far-reaching policy are coalescing around the message that something is better than nothing.” [The Washington Post, 11/3/21]

BREAKING: Democrats Reach Deal to Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Prescription Drug Prices in Build Back Better Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, Democrats in Congress reached a historic agreement to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans. This agreement gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs, and stops excessive price increases for existing medications. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“President Biden and Democratic leaders fought tirelessly to include prescription drug reform in the Build Back Better Act, and now they have a plan to make it happen. For far too long, drug companies have dictated prices. Americans pay three times more than people in other countries, but that all stops with this plan.

“Now, Medicare will have the power to negotiate lower drug prices, no senior will pay more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, no diabetic Medicare patient will pay more than $35 per month for their insulin, and every American will be protected from egregious price increases for the drugs they need. Combined with the other health measures in the Build Back Better Act, Democrats will lower insurance premiums, expand coverage and lower the cost of drugs for millions. This is the most significant expansion of affordable health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. That’s a big deal.

“The only loser today is Big Pharma. Instead of wasting millions of dollars on failed lobbying efforts and scare tactics, drug companies can now put more money towards innovation and research. Reducing the cost of prescription drugs will save lives, and we have President Biden and Democrats to thank for bringing real relief to millions of people.” 

“We Cannot Turn Back Now:” Frontline Democrats Call for Passing Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Act

U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN-02) and 14 swing-district Democratic members of the House released a letter calling for the final Build Back Better Act to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Members recognize that delivering lower drug prices means keeping their promises to voters.  

They wrote, “With the Build Back Better agenda, we have a perhaps once in a generation opportunity to change the status quo and make good on our promise that no one should have to choose between affording their prescription drugs or food or housing. The public is on our side. Big Pharma is not.” Click here to read the full letter. 

From Washington Post’s Health 202: “House Democrats from some of the most vulnerable seats are urging leadership to include drug pricing measures in the bill. ‘Soon, we must go back to our districts and explain what we’ve done in Washington to make our constituents’ lives better,’ the 15 frontline Democrats wrote in a letter Sunday. ‘We ran on upsetting the status quo and lowering out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs.’” [Washington Post, 11/1/21

From Politico Huddle: “Fifteen frontline Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Sunday night urging the inclusion of prescription drug pricing provisions in the final social spending package, reminding their leadership of the promises they made to voters. ’As majority-makers in competitive districts, we promised our constituents that we would come to Washington to fight on their behalf for lower drug prices. We cannot turn back now on our promise to the American people,’ the lawmakers wrote.” [Politico, 11/1/21]