Liberal groups call on Dem leaders to go bigger on drug price legislation

Liberal groups call on Dem leaders to go bigger on drug price legislation
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A coalition of leading liberal organizations is calling on House Democratic leaders to take bolder stances in proposing legislation to lower drug prices and go further than allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

“Although Medicare negotiation is a much-needed reform, it is not the only solution needed to reach most Americans,” the letter to House Democratic leaders states. “We need reforms that lower stratospheric launch prices for new drugs and prevent price gouging on existing drugs for all payers.”

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The letter is signed by a range of groups that are powerful allies of congressional Democrats, including the Center for American Progress, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Indivisible and Families USA.

The push to go bigger comes as House Democrats are in the process of putting together their drug pricing legislation.

While allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices has long been a Democratic priority, the groups note that 56 percent of the population is covered by private insurance, so they want drug pricing reforms to apply to them too, not just to people with Medicare.

The Center for American Progress, for example, has a plan to limit drug prices that applies to both public and private insurance.

The letter is addressed to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Calif.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with .7 billion antitrust fine | GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims | Dems ask FTC for budget wishlist | Justices punt on Google privacy settlement Dems ask FTC if it needs more money to protect privacy Trump officials take bold steps on Medicaid MORE (D-N.J.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget Liberal groups step up pressure on Dems to request Trump's tax returns The retirement crisis is real MORE (D-Mass.).

House Democrats are planning to first move a package of “low-hanging fruit” drug pricing measures that are smaller and could receive bipartisan support. The liberal groups did not object to this strategy, noting that: “We believe there may be opportunities to enact into law incremental legislation, such as legislation that makes it easier for generic drugs to come to market.”

It is in the second phase, where Democrats plan to bring forward bigger, more partisan legislation, where the groups want to go beyond just allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

“We appreciate your steadfast efforts to lower prescription drug prices for the American people and stand ready to assist you in any way we can,” the letter states.