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Feb 10, 2021

Stephanie Kennan Talks Major Drug Pricing and ACA Reform in Q&A with Leaders Edge

Stephanie Kennan, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president and former policy advisor to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), spoke with Leaders Edge in a Feb. 2 Q&A session on what to expect in healthcare during the first year of the Biden presidency. Kennan addressed drug pricing legislation and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the interview.

Kennan noted that Sens. Grassley and Wyden were able to get a bipartisan proposal on drug pricing through the Finance Committee during the last Congress, although a majority of committee members said the bill needed more work before it came before the full Senate. The House passed several bills that were similar to sections of the Finance Committee bill, but none were considered by the Senate.

“It would seem logical that the Senate Finance Committee legislation before revisions, could again be a starting place. Sen. Wyden, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has said he wants to tackle the issue of drug pricing,” Kennan said. “Most likely he will build off the original bipartisan bill and cap drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and require drug manufacturers to provide Medicare inflation rebates, paying back the government for price increases. In addition, the issue of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices is still very much active.”

President Biden’s administration has signaled the intention to bolster the ACA and expand coverage through a public health insurance option. Kennan discussed the potential for bipartisan support, using Medicare Advantage as a model of a private market and public program partnership and defined contribution solutions like Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Accounts as a viable coverage option.

“I think finding more ways for individuals to have more choice about how they are covered and how patients choose to spend their healthcare dollars is an evolving, ongoing process,” Kennan said. “Sometimes the tax code slows down the progress. There will always have to be safeguards for consumers to ensure the coverage they are choosing is appropriately comprehensive and that individuals are not discriminated against because of pre-existing health conditions. I can’t say there is a specific developing proposal, but I know this is an area that policy makers are interested in and concerned about, so it will get attention.”