Administration

Biden calls on Senate to pass his agenda to lower drug prices

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President Biden on Thursday called on the Senate to pass his currently-stalled Build Back Better legislation, touting that it would lower prescription drug prices, a popular issue ahead of the midterm elections.

Biden traveled to the Virginia district of vulnerable Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, saying that drug prices are “outrageously expensive” and calling for action.

“In my Build Back Better legislation that with Abigail’s leadership passed the House of Representatives, we can do that,” he said. “Now we just have to get it through the United States Senate, and we’re close.” 

The Build Back Better package is currently stuck in the Senate, though, given objections from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). There has been some talk of starting fresh on a revised proposal that could have a different name, but Biden still used the “Build Back Better” branding on Thursday.

Biden did not mention Manchin, but said, “We’ve just got to get Abigail’s enthusiasm that got it through in the House of Representatives to the United States Senate.”

Manchin is concerned about inflation, and Biden’s remarks came the same day new data showed consumer prices rose at 7.5 percent annually, the fastest rate since 1982.

Biden sought to address inflation concerns by arguing his package would “bring down the cost for average families,” and also noted it “will not increase the debt,” another concern of Manchin’s.

The drug pricing provisions in Build Back Better, which were negotiated for months with a handful of moderate Democrats, would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for a limited number of older drugs, limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation, cap out of pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year for seniors on Medicare, and limit insulin costs to $35 per month.

Democrats have campaigned for years on lowering drug costs, and some lawmakers are getting impatient that the package is stalled and action is delayed.

A group of 40 House Democrats last month wrote to leadership calling for “swift” action on the issue.  

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Wednesday called on Senate Democrats to bring up a bill to lower drug prices in that chamber, saying they wanted to force a debate.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in October found 83 percent of the public supports allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Biden agenda Build Back Better drug pricing Inflation Joe Biden Joe Manchin prescription drug costs
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