Pharmacy benefit managers, increasingly scapegoated in the debate over drug pricing, on Tuesday received formal notice to testify before the Senate Finance Committee.
Panel Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters to PBMs including Cigna Corp., CVS Caremark, CVS Health, Humana, OptumRx and Prime Therapeautics, urging them to appear before the committee on April 3.
The Senate Finance Committee in late February grilled the executives of seven major pharmaceutical company, but immediately after the testimony PBM stocks fell slightly, while stocks for most of the drug companies represented either rose slightly or remained stable.
During that hearing, drug manufacturers threw their support behind the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate middleman rebates for Medicare Part D plans.
Senators are working on legislation to bring more transparency to the rebate system and boost HHS' proposed regulation, with support gaining traction in both chambers of Congress.
"Middlemen in the healthcare industry owe patients and taxpayers an explanation of their role," Grassley and Wyden said in a statement. "There's far too much bureaucracy and too little transparency getting in the way of affordable, quality healthcare."
The senators also said that since they called up pharmaceutical CEOs, "it's only fair that the committee has the opportunity to ask questions of other players in the healthcare supply chain."
The administration's rebate proposal isn't without controversy even beyond the PBM world, as actuarial analyses vary when it comes to predicting how much it will help Medicare Part D enrollees.
Last week, congressional advisers on Medicaid—which is included in the proposed rule even though its enrollees won't see any benefit—expressed concern about potential downstream harms for the program.