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Report: Schumer, Manchin Agree on Reconciliation Bill

·2 min read

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is poised to submit a reconciliation bill to the Senate parliamentarian on Wednesday. According to Punchbowl News, the text of the bill will reflect an agreement among all Senate Democrats on lowering prescription-drug costs.

The deal is part of a larger Democratic project to potentially resurrect Build Back Better, the massive spending bill championed by the Biden administration, and follows weeks of conversations between Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.). Manchin ended previous negotiations over the spending bill after the House of Representatives passed it in December, citing concerns over inflation, but expressing an interest in continuing to negotiate over some aspects of the bill.

Schumer and Manchin’s agreed-upon bill still must undergo a “Byrd Bath” review process to ensure it is consistent with the Senate’s reconciliation rules.

If approved to go through reconciliation by the parliamentarian and passed by both chambers of Congress, the bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies starting in 2023, and cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients at $2,000 per year, among other provisions. It would also impose an “inflation rebate” policy, mandating drug companies pay back consumers if they raise prices above inflation, according to Punchbowl.

Other aspects included in the original text of Build Back Better — pertaining to climate change and tax reform — are still being negotiated within the Democratic caucus.

“Senator Manchin has long advocated for proposals that would lower prescription drug costs for seniors, and his support for this proposal has never been in question,” Manchin’s communications director, Sam Runyon, said in a statement last week. “He’s glad that all 50 Democrats agree.”

The deal on prescription drugs also calls for providing free vaccines for seniors and expanding co-pay assistance for low-income individuals.

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