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Rubio did not write "the law" to raise prescription prices. He introduced a bill to repeal provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that are intended to reduce Medicare drug prices. But the U.S. Senate did not vote on it, and it is not a law.
Experts said the Inflation Reduction Act would lower the cost of drugs for Medicare recipients, and Rubio's efforts to repeal the Medicare drug provisions would raise prices.
Rubio's bill is aimed at encouraging manufacturers to develop new drugs by allowing them to raise prices and collect higher profits. It targets provisions that will primarily affect drug prices for Medicare enrollees and affect drug prices for nonenrollees only modestly.
In Florida, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is battling for incumbent Republican Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat and has criticized him for failing to show up for meetings in Congress and accused him of hurting older Floridians when he does.
In a campaign ad that aired in the midterm election run-up's closing days, Demings accused Rubio of hiking prescription drug costs.
Rubio "voted against lowering prescription prices," Demings said. The spot included a graphic that read: "Rubio helped write the law to raise prescription prices."
Demings' Senate campaign said the ad refers to the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping law on health care, climate change and taxes, as well as legislation Rubio introduced to repeal some of the act's provisions on Medicare.
Rubio voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed Congress with only Democratic support. But Demings' ad about his effort to strike the law's changes for prescription drugs requires clarification.
Rubio sponsored a bill that experts say would lead to higher Medicare prescription prices, but it never became law.
He and three Republican senators introduced the Protecting Drug Innovation Act in September. It has been referred to a committee, but as long as Democrats control the Senate, it has no chance of passage.
Rubio's bill would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act's provision that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drugmakers on some medications — a provision that will take effect in 2025 and is expected to reduce the cost of the 10 most expensive drugs in the Medicare program for the federal government and consumers.
His bill also would remove a requirement for companies to pay a rebate to Medicare when a drug's price rises faster than inflation rates and would eliminate a $2,000 cap on what Medicare recipients would have to pay for some medications.
The penalties for price hikes will take effect in 2023, and the cap on out-of-pocket spending will be implemented in 2025.
Combined, the policies in the Inflation Reduction Act will save the federal government, which pays for the bulk of Medicare benefits, around $160 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO.
Medicare enrollees will directly benefit from the law's $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket spending.
"There is little question that repealing these provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act would raise drug prices," said Matthew Fiedler, a senior fellow with the University of Southern California-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.
The increases associated with Rubio's bill would primarily affect drug prices for Medicare, not the private sector. Rubio's proposed repeals would "have modest effects on prices outside of Medicare," Fiedler said.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, "the changes to Medicare's system of paying for prescription drugs would directly lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients," said Rachel Sachs, a law professor and drug policy expert at Washington University in St. Louis. By comparison, Rubio's bill would increase "out-of-pocket prices directly for 50 (million) to 60 million Americans."
Rubio's campaign argued the Inflation Reduction Act provisions will harm drug innovation — a notion that echoed rhetoric from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing drug companies, which said the law will "lead to fewer" new drugs.
Experts said there's some truth to the idea.
"Higher drug prices would translate into higher profits for manufacturers, which would, in turn, give manufacturers a stronger incentive to develop new drugs," Fiedler told PolitiFact. "But there is a lot of disagreement about how large the effects will be."
The CBO estimated the drug-price negotiation provision would mean 15 of about 1,300 drugs — or 1% — would not come to market over the next 30 years. The office did not specify what "classes or types of drugs."
"We do know that a large fraction of patients — including seniors — are not currently able to afford the medications they need due to their price," Sachs said. "Many patients cannot access existing innovation under today's drug pricing system."
Demings said, "Rubio helped write the law to raise prescription prices."
Rubio introduced a bill to repeal Inflation Reduction Act provisions that would reduce the cost of the 10 most expensive drugs in the Medicare program for the federal government and consumers.
It did not become a law, and it's worth remembering that Rubio's bill targets provisions that will primarily affect drug prices for Medicare — not the private sector. Still, around 60 million Americans are enrolled in the program, and in 2017, Medicare accounted for about 30% of the prescription drug market.
Experts said his bill would "directly raise" what older people and people with disabilities pay for their medication. We rate Demings' claim Mostly True.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., tweet, Oct 31, 2022
Email interview with Christian Slater, communications director for Demings' campaign, Nov. 1, 2022
Email interview with Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for Rubio's campaign, Nov. 1, 2022
Email interview with Matthew Fiedler, a senior fellow with the University of Southern California-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, Nov. 3, 2022
Email interview with Rachel Sachs, law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Nov. 3, 2022
PolitiFact, The Democrats’ big IRA bill fulfills some Biden promises, leaves others behind, Aug. 12, 2022
PolitiFact, "An Ad's Charge That Drug Price Haggling Would 'Swipe $500 Billion From Medicare' Is Incorrect," Sept. 28, 2021
Kaiser Family Foundation, How Will the Prescription Drug Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act Affect Medicare Beneficiaries, Aug 18, 2022
Congressional Budget Office, Estimated Budgetary Effects of Public Law 117-169, Sept. 7, 2022
Florida Politics, Florida Democrats: Repeal of drug provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act would hurt Medicare recipients, Oct.7, 2022
Congress.gov, Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, accessed Nov. 2, 2022
Congress.gov, Protect Drug Innovation Act, accessed Nov. 2, 2022
The New York Times, Fact-Checking Health Claims About the Inflation Reduction Act, Aug. 19, 2022
Kaiser Family Foundation, 10 essential facts about Medicare and prescription drug spending, Jan. 29, 2019
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