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Senate congressman greenlights most of Democrats’ drug pricing plans

The Senate congressman approved key provisions on climate and health care in the Democrats’ major spending bill.

The rulings by Elizabeth MacDonough, the chamber’s nonpartisan rules keeper, come ahead of a vote scheduled for Saturday afternoon to begin debate on the $739 billion climate, health care and tax package titled “Inflation Reduction Act”.

Democrats are using a fast-track process known as reconciliation to push the bill through a simple majority vote. The Senate parliamentarian is responsible for issuing opinions on the compliance of provisions with the conditions of the budget reconciliation rules.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the Senate Finance Committee’s clean energy tax package — an important part of the bill — complied with House rules.

The Cut Inflation Act provides $369 billion for the climate, much of which will go towards tax credits to support clean energy technologies. Consumption tax credits are included for Americans to make “home energy efficiency improvements” and for those who buy electric vehicles.

It also offers a tax credit to clean energy developers who pay their workers the going wage.

“I am especially pleased that our current wage provisions have been approved,” Wyden said in a statement. “These provisions guarantee wage rates for clean energy projects. Clean energy jobs will be well-paying jobs.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., also announced Saturday that the congressman had approved most of the drug pricing provisions in the Cut Inflation Act, except for a prescription cost-cutting program that Democrats wanted to include.

“Democrats have received some very good news: for the first time, Medicare will finally be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, seniors will have free vaccines and their costs capped, and much more. This is a major victory. for the American people,” Schumer said. said in a statement.

The legislation will allow the federal secretary of health to directly negotiate the prices of certain expensive drugs for Medicare starting in 2026. It would also cap disbursements for those using Medicare drug plans at $2,000.

Democrats wanted to penalize drug companies for raising the prices of certain prescription drugs faster than inflation, in an effort to cut costs. But, according to a close source, the parliamentarian ruled that these sanctions cannot be applied to people with private health insurance. They will indeed stay for Medicare.

“While there was an unfortunate decision that inflation reimbursement has a more limited scope, the overall program remains intact and we are about to finally take on Big Pharma and lower Rx drug prices for millions of Americans,” Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrives for a press conference on the Cut Inflation Act outside the US Capitol, August 4, 2022, in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Schumer said earlier this week that the first vote on the spending bill is expected Saturday afternoon.

The motion to proceed, if passed, would initiate debate on the bill and give lawmakers the opportunity to vote on the amendments in what has been dubbed “vote-a-rama.”

Republicans have pledged to propose amendments on issues related to immigration, crime and energy. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., told reporters on Friday that the voting session would be “hell.”

President Joe Biden welcomed the move on the bill on Friday, saying Democrats were “on the verge” of taking what he called “the most important step” in tackling inflation.

“In short, this bill is a game-changer for working families and our economy,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the Senate pass this legislation and pass it as soon as possible.”

ABC News

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