Liberal groups call for delaying cures bill to next year

Liberal groups call for delaying cures bill to next year
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A coalition of liberal groups is calling for a medical cures bill to be delayed until next year so that solutions for high drug prices can be added into it, a major obstacle for a bill that leadership has said it hopes to pass in the lame-duck session after the election. 

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Thirteen groups, including the Center for American Progress, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers, wrote to Democratic leaders in both chambers on Wednesday calling on them to delay the 21st Century Cures Act until next year.

The measure is aimed at speeding up the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of new drugs and investing new funds in medical research. But the liberal groups argue the measure would be benefiting the drug industry while doing nothing to address uproar over high drug prices — for example, the recent outrage over price spikes on EpiPens. 

“Moving forward with this legislation now would be a missed opportunity to address unaffordable prescription drug prices,” the letter states. “There is no justification for moving forward with legislation that provides substantial benefits to the drug industry without asking for something in return.”

The groups call for the measure to be dealt with next year, when drug prices could also be addressed as part of it. 

The coalition's position could be a roadblock for lawmakers who had hoped to pass the legislation in the lame-duck session after the election this year. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) said in September that the measure would be a “top priority” during the brief session, and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids MORE (R-Wis.) expressed a similar sentiment. 

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating on the bill for months, hoping to find a way to pay for billions of dollars in new spending for the National Institutes of Health. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference last week that “if leadership takes it up, I think it will pass.”

“Some people don’t have the same support for it, so we’re just going to have to build consensus,” she noted as well.