Lawmakers prepare to probe PBMs in second hearing
The Big Story
Lawmakers set sights on PBMs in second hearing
A House Oversight subcommittee on Tuesday will examine the pricing tactics of pharmacy benefit managers, the second time it has held a hearing focused on the PBM industry.
© The Hill, Tierney L. Cross
Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) indicated in a statement that the focus would be on issues like rebates and so-called “spread pricing,” which he said “benefit PBMs and have helped the three largest PBMs monopolize the pharmaceutical market.”
During the first hearing on PBMs held this year by the committee, Comer said, “We are sincere about identifying waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. And when you look at problems that every American has, prescription drug costs are at the top of the list.”
Comer is not a fan of PBMs. He launched an investigation into PBM business practices in March, and at an unrelated hearing with the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary in June he expressed support for dismantling PBMs.
Speaking to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Comer accused PBMs of weaponizing their access to patient information and questioned if and how they engaged in “self-serving practices at the expense of patients and taxpayers.”
Bipartisan legislation in both chambers seeks to reform the PBM industry.
In the Senate, the “Pharmacy Benefit Manager Transparency Act” was introduced in January and would prohibit PBMs from engaging in certain practices including charging health plans and payers difference prices.
An estimate from the Congressional Budget Office found this bill could save taxpayers $740 million over 10 years.
The “Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act” was introduced earlier this year in the House and would require the companies to disclose how much in rebates and administrative fees they receive.
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