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 BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (D-Ohio), who is considering a presidential run, and Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? 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 TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' 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 McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok 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 WelchNational Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus Democrats roll out national plan to reopen America Democrats press USDA to create rural coronavirus task force 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 SandersBiden wins Puerto Rico primary In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Biden wins Louisiana primary MORE.”