Pharma-funded Zinke wants to repeal law allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices - TAI News
Skip to content
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) talks with reporters in the Capitol Visitor Center, May 7, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 capped out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare Part D enrollees at $2,000 a year and authorized the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. Republican Montana U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke is co-sponsoring a bill that would repeal the law, including those provisions.

Zinke is facing a potentially competitive rematch for his seat this November against Democratic attorney Monica Tranel after he defeated her 49.6%-46.5% in 2022. On her campaign website, Tranel says, “Congress needs to protect what we have and do more to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare, including strengthening the ability of Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices and guaranteeing that hundreds of thousands of Montanans—and millions of Americans—who rely on these programs get the coverage they are entitled to and the protections they deserve.” 

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester voted for the 2022 law, which also extended health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, offered tax incentives for clean energy, reduced the deficit, and cracked down on wealthy tax evaders. Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Matt Rosendale, both Republicans, voted no. 

In February 2023, Zinke, Rosendale, and 18 other House Republicans jointly introduced a bill to completely repeal the law. They named their bill the Inflation Reduction Act of 2023, falsely claiming that eliminating the law would actually reduce the budget deficit and the cost of living. The bill still awaits action in committee. 

In an emailed statement, a Zinke spokesperson did not respond to questions about the drug price negotiation provisions, but told the Montana Independent: “Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi passed the IRA which added $800 billion in government spending and made Biden’s inflation even worse. Since Biden was sworn in, his policies have caused Montana households to pay $26,000 more for basic necessities.”

On Feb. 1, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it had begun the process of negotiating with the manufacturers of 10 popular prescription drugs to reduce how much Medicare has to pay for the medications. The drugs affected include common treatments for blood clots, heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, blood cancers, and psoriasis. The negotiated prices will go into effect in 2026.

Even with the negotiations underway, many House Republicans continue to try to stop it. The right-wing Republican Study Committee, which includes both Zinke and Rosendale as members, released a fiscal year 2025 budget proposal in March that specifically called for repeal of the authorization to conduct drug price negotiations. “The RSC Budget would also repeal Biden’s price controls,” the group said in an overview, “which are projected to reduce medical research and development spending by as much as 60 percent and result in 342 fewer life-saving medical treatments.”

This echoed pharmaceutical industry talking points. Drug companies unsuccessfully tried to stop passage of the 2022 law, claiming that reduced profits would mean less research and development money to develop future treatments.

But experts say the law will have a minimal effect on drug development. A December 2019 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation found that price negotiations would likely mean “approximately 8 fewer drugs” over a decade and “about 30 fewer drugs over the subsequent decade.” 

According to data collected by OpenSecrets, Zinke has received more than $42,000 in campaign funds since the start of 2023 from individuals and PACs connected to the pharmaceuticals and health products industry.

Related articles

Share this article:
Subscribe to our newsletter

The Montana Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.