Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after progressive complaints

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

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAn insecure America and an assertive China The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - House to pass relief bill; Trump moves to get US back to work Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —US now leads world in known coronavirus cases | Unemployment claims soar by over 3 million | House to vote on stimulus Friday | Ventilator shortage sets off scramble 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 PocanOvernight Defense: 'Tens of thousands' of National Guard troops could be activated for coronavirus response | Hospital ships could take week to deploy | Trump says military to help Americans stuck in Peru Democrats introduce bill to send coronavirus tests to US troops in Middle East US general: Afghanistan deployments paused to protect troops from coronavirus MORE (D-Wis.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Critical supplies shortage hampers hospitals, health providers Washington state lawmakers warn health workers running low on protective gear 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 John TrumpDefense industrial base workers belong at home during this public health crisis Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump 'racist cowboy' House leaders hope to vote Friday on coronavirus stimulus 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.