Cornyn, Bennet Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Access to Generic Drugs

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and I recently introduced the Increasing Access to Biosimilars Act, which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a shared savings demonstration project to increase access to biosimilar biological products under the Medicare program.

Texans who need lifesaving medication shouldn't have to pay through the nose when there are lower-cost alternatives. This bill would lower Texans’ out-of-pocket costs while creating savings for Medicare, and I'm proud to offer a bipartisan solution to help drive down the cost of prescription drugs.

“The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs was a problem in this country before the pandemic. Now, even more Americans have to choose between their lifesaving medications and putting food on the table, especially seniors, communities of color, and the millions of people living on fixed incomes who need their prescriptions to live,” said Sen. Bennet. “This legislation would increase patient access to lower-cost biosimilars, saving them and our health care system billions of dollars. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation forward.”

Background:

Currently, providers in Medicare Part B are reimbursed for administering biologic drugs, including biosimilars at average sales price (ASP)+6%, of which the federal government pays 80% and beneficiaries pay 20% coinsurance. This means providers are reimbursed at a higher rate for using higher-cost biologic products rather than lower-cost biosimilars. At the same time, Medicare beneficiaries are forced to pay higher copays on those brand name biologic products.

This legislation would direct HHS to establish a shared savings demonstration project to increase access to biosimilars in the Medicare program. This would encourage physicians to prescribe less-expensive biosimilars increasing patient access to more affordable, life-saving drugs and lowering patient out-of-pocket costs.

Under the demonstration, Medicare would provide an additional payment to providers for using lower-cost biosimilar products that reflects the savings created in contrast to administering the higher-cost reference biological product. Additionally, the Medicare can use a portion of those savings to reduce the beneficiary’s coinsurance payment.

The Increasing Access to Biosimilar Act of 2021 is supported by: The Biosimilars Forum and Viatris.

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