Stacks of pills and coins Whileother drug pricing reform proposals have been voiced, it remains tobe seen whether any plan will materialize in time to be used as acampaign tool for the 2020 election. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A one-two punch has put the drug pricing agenda from the WhiteHouse down for the count. A judge has blocked one rule that would have forced drugcompanies to disclose prices in TV ads, and a proposal that wouldhave eliminated drug rebates was abandoned after anoutcry that it would have raised seniors' Medicare premiums andcost Medicare millions more for prescription drugs.

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According to The Hill, Congress may actually have to step upand take action now that the White House agenda has fizzled.Cutting drug prices has become a bête noire for the president withaction stalled on both fronts, particularly since Alex Azar,secretary of Health and Human Services, has been pushing the rebateplan for months.

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Meanwhile, drug prices are still on the rise.

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Related: Brand-name prescription drug prices double in 6 to8 years

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According to data from Rx Savings Solutions that puts the priceincreases on more than 3,400 drugs at five times the rate ofinflation just in the first six months of this year—a average of10.5 percent each.

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The rebate plan, according to HHS, was supposed to lower pricesfor prescription drugs and out-of-pocket costs by pushingmanufacturers to discount products directly to consumers at thepoint of sale instead of going through pharmacy benefit managers.While the drug industry supported the move, PBMs did not.

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Nor did AARP or the health insurance industry, especially sincethe White House's own actuaries found that such a move would,instead of lowering prices, actually increase senior citizens'Medicare premiums and end up costing the government an extra $180million for what Medicare would have to fork over in increasedprices on prescription drugs.

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“The withdrawal [of the proposed rule] puts even more pressureon Congress to step up to the plate,” Senate Finance CommitteeChairman Chuck Grassley, R-IA, said, as reported in The Hill. “It'stime for Congress to legislate and deliver on our promise to lowerhealth care costs for Americans.”

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Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, has been working with Grassley to comeup with a mutually acceptable plan, something they claim to beclose to. “It's going to have to be Congress,” hesaid. ”What is inescapable, is that that decision[abandoning the rebate elimination proposal] drives home howimportant it is for Congress to step up and deal with theseskyrocketing prices.”

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While other proposals have been voiced—tying the price paid fordrugs in the U.S. to the prices paid in other countries, forinstance, or importing drugs from other countries—it remains to beseen whether any plan will materialize in time to be used as acampaign tool for the 2020 election.

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