On May 11, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the “HELP Committee” or the “Committee”) passed a bipartisan bill to expand federal regulation of pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) for group health plans. As a compromise by Health Sub-Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and ranking Republican Bill Cassidy (LA), the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Act (S. 1339) reflects the overarching legislative push by members from both sides of the aisle and chambers of Congress to address drug pricing issues through federal fixes to the PBM framework . Further, Congress’ efforts build on the momentum from the enactment of the high-profile Medicare prescription drug pricing provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (the “IRA”) in 2022. 
For the last week or so, the health reform public policy debate has been keyed to the Senate HELP Committee’s draft and thus dominated by whether or not the “Exchange” to be employed in access reform should include a “public plan” and, if so, whether such a plan should have the power to access provider payment rates tied to Medicare and whether Medicare participating providers would be required to contract with it. With this week’s release of the Senate Finance Committee’s draft, it will be interesting to see whether payment reform can similarly capture the ...
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