The pharmaceutical industry has reacted with a degree of opposition to the House passage of the health bill over the weekend. The bill includes the provision for billions of dollars that drug companies will have to provide the government over a ten year period to help finance the reforms. Companies have spent a significant amount of time negotiating the terms of the rebates. The government is convinced that the payout will be offset by the increased customer base once most Americans have coverage.
The bill also permits Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Drug companies are looking to the Senate to remove the Medicare negotiation terms as they are concerned that, on top of the $80 billion in rebates, the negotiated profits will dramatically reduce profits. The Senate Finance Committee version of the bill did not include the provisions for Medicare negotiations so pharmaceutical companies are hoping that as the bill moves back to the Senate the provision can be amended.
There also remains large scale opposition to the public health insurance option that was approved as part of the House bill. If the Senate approves a separate health bill it will have to be combined with the House bill which would give companies additional time to lobby for removal of aspects of the bill that they don’t like.