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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 BrownPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Congress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Democratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry MORE (D-Ohio), who is considering a presidential run, and Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line 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 TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight 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 WelchShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Vermont Rep. Peter Welch easily wins primary Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism 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 hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Trump's debate performance was too little, too late Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE.”