Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the continued progress made toward finalizing and passing President Biden’s transformative Build Back Better plan to deliver help for the American people. Senator Schumer also laid out the agreement reached to lower prescription drug prices. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday, Democrats continued making great progress towards finalizing President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
The challenges American families and workers are facing today are enormous, and President Biden’s agenda is the remedy to much of their hardships. It’s just what the American people want and what they need.
And it’s exactly why we need to focus on getting the job done; to finalize and pass this legislation and deliver help for the American people.
Last night, I held another round of talks going past midnight with a number of my colleagues as we approach a final agreement: talks with the White House, the Speaker, my Senate colleagues and chairs, and members of the House. We continue to make very good progress each day.
Passing such transformative legislation is not easy—but the long hours we are putting into it will be well worth it for the American people.
Over the last 24 hours, the hard work has yielded an important new development: yesterday, I announced that Democrats had reached an agreement to include provisions in Build Back Better that will lower prescription drug prices for seniors and for American families. This is a big deal.
For years, skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs have plagued millions of seniors and American families—to the point that Americans spend far more on prescription drugs per capita than other wealthy nations. It’s one of the largest out-of-pocket medical expenses that families have and it’s gotten worse over the last few years.
For too many Americans, all it takes is a sudden serious illness and you can find yourselves spending hundreds if not thousands and several thousands of dollars per year, just to afford things like insulin or vitally-needed cancer treatments. It’s profoundly unfair and wholly un-American. Imagine the strain you can face: someone—you or a loved one—is ill and you can't afford the medicine, and you see them, their condition getting worse and worse. I can't think of things that are worse than that.
Yesterday, we took a large step forward in helping alleviate that problem. For the first time ever, Medicare will be empowered to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part D. This will directly reduce out-of-pocket drug spending for millions of patients every time they visit a pharmacy or a doctor.
Our agreement does other things as well. It will cap out-of-pocket spending at $2,000 per year, ending the dilemma I just spoke about where a life-changing diagnosis could mean thousands upon thousands of dollars in new expenses that an individual can't afford.
This agreement will lower insulin prices so that Americans with diabetes don’t pay more than $35 per month for their insulin. Let me repeat that because it's amazing how the cost of insulin used to be so reasonable and has skyrocketed over the last few years, with very little reasonable, justifiable explanation. This agreement will lower insulin prices so that Americans with diabetes don't pay more than $35 per month for their insulin.
And it will reform the pharmaceutical industry to stop price gouging and make sure our country’s drug pricing system benefits patients, not corporations.
It’s not everything all of us wanted—but it’s a major, major step in the right direction as we work to help the American people better afford their prescription drugs. We're going to keep working to make it even better, but this is a really good start and a major, major announcement.
I want to thank all my colleagues who had a hand in putting this agreement together—Senator Wyden, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Murphy, Senator Cortez Masto, Senator Bennet, and Senator Kelly. And I also want to thank Senator Sinema for working with us to reach this agreement.
We are going to build on this success as we continue making progress on the rest of Build Back Better.
We are close, we are determined, and we are confident that we will succeed in rewarding the trust that the American people have placed in us.