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 BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE (D-Ohio), who is considering a presidential run, and Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettLobbying World Treasury to miss Dem deadline for Trump tax returns Overnight Health Care: Oversight Republicans accuse Dems of partisan drug pricing probe | Democrats struggle to unite behind drug price plan | CDC investigating E. coli outbreak 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 TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone 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 McConnellThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Anti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age 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 WelchBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Divisions emerge over House drug price bills Trump CFO Weisselberg emerges as key person of interest for Dems 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone GOP Senate campaign arm hits battleground-state Dems over 'Medicare for All,' Green New Deal Warren unveils plan to cancel student loan debt, create universal free college MORE.”