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Sens. Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

A group of senators is considering a plan to limit how much drug companies can raise their prices in Medicare's prescription drug benefit, among other changes.

The big picture: Some of the proposals would majorly restructure the way Medicare pays for drugs and are sure to draw massive industry pushback — if lawmakers can even agree to them.

Driving the news: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and the committee‘s top Democrat, Ron Wyden, have been negotiating a drug price package. Grassley briefed Republican members yesterday on the discussions.

  • There's general agreement on a handful of measures, two Senate aides familiar with the negotiations said, including restructuring how Part D's catastrophic phase is financed, capping seniors' out-of-pocket costs and limiting price increases in Part B to the inflation rate.
  • Drug companies — which currently don't pay any portion of the catastrophic phase — would be on the hook for some of it, but it's not yet clear how much, according to the aides and a senator who was in yesterday's meeting.

Yes, but: Limiting price increases in Part D to the inflation rate is more controversial, as is a proposal to allow Medicaid to pay for gene therapies over time and based on their outcomes.

  • "I don’t think you have to do government-required pricing, or price baking, to be able to control costs," said Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Administration officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar and the head of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, attended yesterday‘s meeting.

  • "The White House and HHS are unified in support of what Chairman Grassley is doing to help protect seniors from outrageous drug prices, improve Medicare for the long haul, and take needed steps forward in how Parts B and D operate," a senior White House official said.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Donald and Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.