Dems unveil bill for Medicare to negotiate drug prices

Dems unveil bill for Medicare to negotiate drug prices
© Greg Nash

Democrats on Thursday unveiled a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a key part of their agenda to lower pharmaceutical costs.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBlood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Trump admin abruptly delays funding for human trafficking victims: report Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group MORE (D-Ohio), who is considering a presidential run, and Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettA dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal Tax-return whistleblower in spotlight amid impeachment fight Is Congress too afraid to fight Big Pharma? MORE (D-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, led the announcement at a press conference on Thursday.

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“What we're really doing today is just calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE to listen to candidate Trump,” Doggett said, pointing out that Trump supported Medicare negotiating drug prices in 2016 before backing off the idea.

While the odds are long the measure can get through the GOP-controlled Senate, Brown said he hoped a strong vote in the House would “put the pressure on [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference MORE.”

Other lawmakers said they hoped that if Trump came out in support of the bill, it would also pressure Senate Republicans.

Trump has put forward other ideas on drug pricing, some of which have received some Democratic support but that Democrats generally say do not go far enough.

Doggett said that, even in the House, the path forward for the bill remains unclear, given that committees are just beginning to hold hearings on the drug-pricing issue and there are multiple different bills on the topic.

Lowering drug prices was a key issue in last year’s campaign, and several newly elected Democrats, including Reps. Katie Porter (Calif.) and Andy Kim (N.J.), touted the bill at the press conference Thursday.

Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDemocrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort Democrats claim new momentum from intelligence watchdog testimony Intelligence watchdog huddles with members as impeachment push grows MORE (D-Vt.) recalled his meeting with Trump in 2017 to discuss drug prices, saying the president expressed support for drug price negotiation in that meeting but never followed up.

“He said all the right things,” Welch said. “I thought I was meeting with [Sen.] Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren MORE.”