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Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after progressive complaints

Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after progressive complaints
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Do Democrats really want unity? MORE (D-Calif.) is making changes to her drug pricing plan after complaints from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). 

Pelosi told lawmakers, including the heads of the Progressive Caucus, during a private meeting Wednesday night that she had heard their complaints. 
 
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The CPC chairpeople, Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanWatch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget Former Progressive Caucus co-chair won't challenge Johnson in 2022 Congressional Progressive Caucus announces new leadership team MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history Rep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 Overnight Health Care: Trump admin makes changes to speed vaccinations | CDC to order negative tests for international travelers | More lawmakers test positive after Capitol siege MORE (D-Wash.), had been sharply criticizing the emerging outline of Pelosi's plan to lower drug prices for only requiring Medicare to negotiate prices on a minimum of 25 drugs per year. The progressives said that number of drugs was far too small and would not do enough to bring prices down.
 
Pelosi told Pocan and Jayapal Wednesday night that she had heard that complaint and that the plan would increase the number of drugs to be negotiated to be somewhere around 250 drugs, according to Pocan. 
 
Asked why Pelosi was making the change, Pocan told reporters, "She actually said it's from the conversations we've had, so I felt good about that."
 
The Wednesday night meeting occurs every week and features the heads of the CPC as well as other Democratic caucuses like the moderate Blue Dogs. Pocan and Jayapal said they have pushed Pelosi on the drug pricing plan several times in previous meetings. 
 
Progressives have been frustrated with what they called a lack of transparency and opportunity for input into the plan, which covers one of Democrats' top priorities: to lower drug prices. 
 
But Pocan said Wednesday's meeting was a step in the right direction.
 
"[It's] moving in the right direction, we've just got to keep moving in that direction, but they're hearing us and that's what's important," Pocan said. 
 
Pelosi told the lawmakers it is "not likely" the plan will be introduced before the Fourth of July recess, Pocan added. 
 
Defenders of Pelosi's targeted approach point out that a small number of high-cost drugs make up a large share of drug spending. One analysis found the top 25 drugs in terms of spending make up about 30 percent of all Medicare drug spending.
 
Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is a top priority for House Democrats, but they have been trying to overcome disagreements over the details of the proposal. 
 
Pelosi's office has been in talks with the White House on drug pricing as well, given that President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE also called for Medicare to negotiate drug prices during his 2016 campaign before backing off the idea. 
 
Any deal between Democrats and Trump would be very hard to achieve, however.