Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August

A measure lawmakers have been working on for months to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices will not move forward before Congress leaves for the August recess, said a key Democrat involved in the legislation.

“I really wanted to see that done pre-August, and I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

{mosads}Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies is one of House Democrats’ top priorities, but the party has been trying to overcome divisions on how to structure the proposal. Progressive lawmakers are pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to take what they view as a stronger line against drug companies. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday that there is no agreement yet on the legislation. 

“The committee’s still discussing it,” Hoyer said, later adding, “They have not reached agreement on that so it’s doubtful it will be next week.”

Progressive lawmakers are pushing for a mechanism that would strip drug companies of their monopolies if they refused to negotiate a reasonable price with Medicare. Pelosi’s office and key committee leaders have been discussing a different approach to have an outside arbiter step in to set the price if Medicare and the drug company cannot agree. 

“I don’t have any timetable, I just know that we’re working on it,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) told reporters last week. 

Progressive groups have been anxious for Democrats to act on one of their top priorities. 

Asked how work is coming on the measure, Eshoo replied, “It’s above my paygrade.”

Tags Anna Eshoo Frank Pallone Jr. Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer

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