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Manchin Calls On Senate Leadership To Act Immediately To Lower Cost Of Drug Prices

March 18, 2024

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and a bipartisan group of colleagues sent a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to call for immediate action on reforming pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in an effort to reduce the cost of prescription drug prices.

Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Peter Welch (D-VT) joined Senator Manchin in sending the letter.

“Immediate action is needed to address these harmful practices by PBMs. Americans deserve and expect protection from inflated prescription drug costs, forced pharmacy closures, formulary manipulation, and barriers to their pharmacy of choice that result from harmful PBM tactics,” the Senators wrote in part. “We cannot sit idly by while patients suffer. We urge you to work as early as this month to enact specific PBM reforms that address these concerns and capitalize on the bipartisan effort and momentum in the House and Senate.”

In July 2023, Senator Manchin introduced the bipartisan Neighborhood Options for Patients Buying Medicines (NO PBMs) Act, which would improve options and access to prescription drugs for seniors bringing PBMs in alignment with Medicare plans, therefore, allowing seniors to shop at their local pharmacy. The NO PBMs Act was included in the Senate Finance Committee's November markup of their PBM reform package and would modernize Medicare and enhance PBM accountability by preventing them from discriminating against pharmacies that are willing to contract with them, helping seniors to seek care closer to home.

The full letter is available below or here.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,

We write to call attention to the immediate need to enact pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reforms to reduce Americans’ prescription drug costs and protect patient access to pharmacies across our country.

Already in the 118th Congress, bipartisan legislation has advanced through several committees, addressing specific PBM practices that for far too long have threatened patient access to low-cost drugs and pharmacies that serve communities nationwide. We have an opportunity now to advance bipartisan legislation that both saves significant taxpayer dollars and also – for the first time – enforces reasonable and relevant terms that ensures pharmacies’ ability to serve patients. There are few issues that unite members of the 118th Congress like reforms that result in savings and accountability.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently wrote to PBMs and health plans, saying, “We are hearing an increasing number of concerns about certain practices by some plans and [PBMs] that threaten the sustainability of many pharmacies, impede access to care, and put increased burden on health care providers.” We have heard directly from our constituents that harmful and aggressive tactics of some PBMs continue to worsen year over year, and that action is needed now to protect pharmacies or potential closure is imminent. Many of our constituents report that some PBMs are reimbursing pharmacies even further below the pharmacies’ cost for the prescriptions that they fill – especially in Medicare. Congress must act to ensure proper oversight and transparency.

Immediate action is needed to address these harmful practices by PBMs. Americans deserve and expect protection from inflated prescription drug costs, forced pharmacy closures, formulary manipulation, and barriers to their pharmacy of choice that result from harmful PBM tactics. We cannot sit idly by while patients suffer. We urge you to work as early as this month to enact specific PBM reforms that address these concerns and capitalize on the bipartisan effort and momentum in the House and Senate.



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