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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 PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class MORE (D-Calif.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats urge Amazon to investigate, recall 'defective' products Asbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Pharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-N.J.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealLawmakers offer bipartisan bill to encourage retirement savings Democrats express concerns about IRS readiness for next year's filing season On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can 'round up' Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T 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.