Cassidy releases draft bill; seeks comments on new pharmaceutical payment methods

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Jan. 29 made available the draft version of a bipartisan bill that aims to move the nation’s pharmaceutical market toward value-based arrangements, which directly connect prescription drug and medical device pricing to their clinical effectiveness.

Sen. Cassidy, a medical doctor, and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) are developing the Patient Affordability, Value and Efficiency Act and seek comments on the newly released draft.

“To lower the cost of health care, we should leverage new ideas and new approaches,” Sen. Cassidy said on Tuesday. “We are crafting this legislation to implement innovative, market-based solutions to increase patient access to care and make medications more affordable.”

To do this, he said, the senators want to facilitate new and innovative payment models for pharmaceuticals and other medical services.

“In recent years, skyrocketing prescription drug prices and health costs have made it more difficult for Americans and communities to access lifesaving care,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why I’ve teamed up with Sen. Cassidy to re-align the way Americans are charged for prescription drugs and other health care costs.”

According to Sen. Cassidy’s statement, the lawmakers are requesting feedback from all interested parties toward vetting technical changes in the draft text that are related to value-based arrangements, among other provisions.

“With input from experts and key stakeholders, we’ll be able to ensure that pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are incentivized to develop more effective treatments at a better price,” Warner said.

Currently, the nation’s healthcare law restricts the ability of insurers, hospitals and clinics to pay for prescription drugs or medical devices based upon their proven clinical effectiveness, according to Sen. Cassidy’s statement.

The Patient Affordability, Value and Efficiency Act would authorize specific exemptions from the law that would help decrease their costs and also incentivize manufacturers to create more effective products for patients, according to the statement.

The draft legislation already has the support of numerous patient groups, including CureDuchenne, the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, Global Genes – Allies in Rare Disease, the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Power for Parkinson’s, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, and The Joshua Frase Foundation, among others.

The patient groups sent a Jan. 29 letter to the senators pointing out that “the adoption of value-based payment models and other innovative reimbursement mechanisms within federal programs are needed due to the emergence of new and innovative therapies, including cellular therapies and gene-based medicines, that have the potential to treat or even cure a variety of life-threatening diseases and disorders for which there are currently no or inadequate treatments.”  

However, the groups wrote, current reimbursement methods aren’t designed to recognize “the high-value, durable nature of these cutting-edge medicines, or to take into account the innovative payment plans being developed, which leaves us concerned that patient access to them could be greatly threatened. This is why your efforts are so important.”