Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs

Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar fundraises for McConnell challenger: 'Two Amys are better than one' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet MORE (D-Minn.) said she thinks the Obama administration missed a key opportunity to lower drug prices when it passed the Affordable Care Act.

In an interview with CNN that aired Friday, the 2020 presidential candidate criticized the influence of the pharmaceutical industry during ObamaCare negotiations.

“I would have liked to see this be part of the Affordable Care Act. But it wasn't, in part, because they were working with the pharmaceutical companies on the premiums issue,” Klobuchar said. “They were working with them on getting support for the Affordable Care Act because they knew that pharma could stop that bill in its tracks.”

Hospitals, doctors, insurers and even the medical device industry all took payment cuts as a way to pay for the law’s massive expansion of health coverage.

But the pharmaceutical industry remained relatively unscathed, and nothing in the law allowed Congress or the White House to take action on lowering drug prices.

Tackling rising prescription drug prices is a bipartisan issue in Congress and on the campaign trail, as public polling suggests the issue is a top concern among voters. Democrats and Republicans broadly agree there’s a problem, but are divided over the solutions.

Klobuchar is one of more than a dozen Democrats currently running for president and jockeying to show they can lead on drug pricing reforms.

Klobuchar said she and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress MORE (R-Iowa) are committed to fixing what she said was something that was neglected by previous administrations of both parties.

“I see it as a missed opportunity, but now we must move forward,” Klobuchar said. “I think both parties have been guilty of not bringing these [bills] up and there’s one party in charge right now, and that’s the Republican Party, and I want to see them bring these bills up for a vote, and I think we can pass them.”

As chairman of the Finance Committee, Grassley is trying to shine a spotlight on drug pricing. Last month, the CEOs of seven major drug companies were grilled by committee members about pricing practices.

Grassley and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform MORE (D-Ore.), the Finance Committee's ranking member, also invited five pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to testify next month. Lawmakers have been just as critical about the role of PBMs, which negotiate drug benefits with manufacturers for insurance plans and employers, as they have with drug manufacturers.