Biden urges Congress to act on prescription drug prices

President Biden on Thursday implored Congress to include strict prescription drug price controls in the massive social policy bill Democ...


President Biden on Thursday implored Congress to include strict prescription drug price controls in the massive social policy bill Democrats plan to draft this fall, addressing an issue his predecessor campaigned on. but failed to do so.

Mr Biden said he wanted at least three measures included in the $ 3.5 trillion social policy bill which Democrats hope to pass using budget rules that would protect it from Republican obstruction. He wants Medicare to have the power to negotiate lower prices for drugs, that drug companies face penalties if they raise prices faster than inflation and a new cap on the market. amount Medicare beneficiaries must spend on drugs.

“There aren’t a lot of things almost all Americans could agree on,” Biden said in the White House. “But I think it’s safe to say that all of us, whatever our origins or our age and where we live, could agree that prescription drug prices are shockingly high in America.”

The president pushed on an open door. Congressional Democrats have previously said they want to include all three measures in the so-called reconciliation bill that the House and Senate committees hope to bring together.

“The finance committee will be a central part of the debate when it comes to reducing health care costs for Americans and making high-quality health care available to more families,” Commission Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said as Senate Democrats unveiled the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan that would allow them to pass legislation without a Republican vote.

Democrats were lobby for most measures for years, against staunch opposition from the powerful pharmaceutical industry and Republican leaders, who explicitly banned price negotiations when they adopted a prescription drug benefit for Medicare in 2003.

But Donald J. Trump broke with Republican orthodoxy in 2016 when he denounced the drug lobby and pledged to let Medicare use its purchasing power to do good business, as the Department of Veterans Affairs already does. As president, Mr. Trump also tried to set the prices of medicines in relation to the much lower prices paid in Europe.

Mr Wyden worked with Iowa Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley on a bipartisan drug pricing bill for much of the Trump presidency, but Republican leaders ignored pleas and Mr. Trump made no effort to enlist. Democrats, who largely agreed with him.

Now it’s Mr. Biden’s turn. Even with the full support of his party, it will not be easy.

The pharmaceutical industry remains a powerful force in Washington, newly bolstered by the gratitude of voters for its rapid development of coronavirus vaccines. Mr. Biden acknowledged that when he started Thursday “recognizing the work that many drug companies are doing; look no further than the vaccines they manufacture and deliver that are helping us beat this pandemic and save lives. “

Since the Senate is split evenly between Republican and Democratic lawmakers, a single defection on a single issue could force it to be dismissed from the whole. With a three-vote margin in the House, President Nancy Pelosi of California does not have much easier time, and drugmakers will be pressuring House members whose districts depend on their work and profits.

Mr. Trump’s past push will not provide any sort of political shield against Republican attacks. FreedomWorks, a conservative group that allied with the former president, immediately denounced “Biden’s latest call to Congress to impose socialist drug price controls.”

Advancing the issue will be popular opinion – lowering drug prices has long been a priority for voters – and the need to find ways to pay $ 3.5 trillion in spending on climate change, expansion education, family and medical leave, childcare and care for the elderly. Falling drug prices for Medicare alone could save the government billions of dollars, depending on how the negotiations are structured.

But the Congressional Budget Office warned that bargaining power alone would have little impact. Negotiations should be tied to specific drugs, and Medicare should be prepared to remove a drug from its accepted coverage list if a company does not budge.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden urges Congress to act on prescription drug prices
Biden urges Congress to act on prescription drug prices
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