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 BrownCongress can defend against Russia by outlawing anonymous shell companies Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (D-Ohio), who is considering a presidential run, and Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides Overnight Health Care: Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret | Dems demand answers from company that shelters migrant kids | Measles cases top 1,000 MORE (D-Texas), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, led the announcement at a press conference on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT
“What we're really doing today is just calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment 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 McConnellGOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown Jon Stewart slams McConnell over 9/11 victim fund 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 WelchHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing 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 SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll MORE.”