Weekly Policy Update: President Biden Delivers First State of the Union Address
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 03/04/2022
Earlier this week, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union address as President to a joint session of Congress. While the speech was primarily focused on the conflict in Ukraine, the President did touch on several domestic areas of importance to the life sciences industry.
The Build Back Better Act (BBBA) and its associated drug pricing provisions remain stalled in the Senate. However, the President called for the permanent reductions on the Affordable Care Act health plan premiums that were enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan. And while not directly referencing the BBBA, the President said the following, “I know we have great disagreements on this floor with this— let’s let Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs.”
After the President’s speech, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made a counteroffer to his fellow Democrats on the BBBA. In an interview about the counteroffer, the Senator noted that if Democrats want to cut a deal on a party-line bill using the budget process to circumvent a Republican filibuster, they need to start with prescription drug savings and tax reform. The Senator also noted that there are currently no formal talks happening with the White House on the offer and that there has been an informal back-and-forth. Ultimately, this dialogue is a signal to expect a new debate on drug pricing in Congress.
Cost of Insulin
President Biden also advocated for a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin. He framed the need for the cap with the following, “Imagine what it’s like to look at your child who needs insulin and have no idea how you’re going to pay for it.” The President also noted that drug companies will still do “very well” under the proposed cap. Senator Michael Bennet, along with Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), introduced the Affordable Insulin Act in the Senate last month, which would cap insulin cost at the $35 level for individuals with Medicare, private group, and individual insurance plans.
CBSA, along with our national partners at BIO, will continue to monitor restarting of discussions in Congress around drug pricing policies. Where appropriate, we will engage with the Colorado Congressional delegation and individual members voicing our concerns with policies. This engagement is driven by our commitment to advancing policies that increase affordability for patients while supporting a pro-innovation environment for life sciences in Colorado.