Incoming Dem chairman: Medicare negotiating drug prices is a priority

Incoming Dem chairman: Medicare negotiating drug prices is a priority
© Greg Nash

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group House Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group Overnight Energy: Bernhardt confirmed as Interior chief | Dems probing if EPA officials broke ethics rules | Senators offer bipartisan carbon capture bill MORE (D-N.J.), who is slated to be the next chairman of a House committee overseeing drug prices, said Wednesday that his top priorities on the issue are allowing Medicare to negotiate prices and speeding the approval of cheaper generic drugs.

Pallone, who is set to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in January, pointed to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE’s support for those two policies in expressing hope for a bipartisan deal.

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“I've always been an advocate for negotiated prices under Medicare, and as you know, President Trump says that he's for that, so I think that’s an area where we can get agreement with the president,” Pallone told reporters.

Trump has previously expressed support for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a top Democratic priority, but has since backed off the idea. Democrats are hoping to get him back on board, and they see drug prices as an area of possible bipartisan cooperation.

Pallone also mentioned bipartisan legislation that would crack down on stalling tactics used by drug companies to prevent cheaper generic competition from entering the market. That bill is known as the Creates Act, and has been delayed all year despite support from members of both parties.

“I think you need negotiated prices under Medicare, and I think you need the Creates Act and other initiatives that will aggressively bring generics to market,” Pallone said. “There's an area where the president agrees with me and the Democrats, so why not?”

House Democrats say drug pricing legislation will be one of their top priorities next year in the majority.

It is unclear what can come out of the GOP-controlled Senate, but Democrats are hoping that if Trump supports legislation he can help get it through the Senate.

Passing drug pricing legislation would be an uphill climb, given that pharmaceutical companies have long been a powerful force in Washington.