House progressives to push for floor amendments on Pelosi drug price bill

House progressives to push for floor amendments on Pelosi drug price bill
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House progressives are planning to push for votes on amendments on the House floor to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE’s (D-Calif.) bill to lower drug prices unless they can win changes before then.

Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanProgressive Caucus co-chair: Reported oversight change in intelligence office 'seems a bit...fascist' House approves amendments to rein in federal forces in cities House Democrats backtrack, will pull Homeland Security bill MORE (D-Wis.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill on Tuesday that progressives would push for “very specific,” targeted amendments on the floor, unless leadership agrees to make the changes ahead of time.

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“We're trying to be very specific about a few provisions,” he said, saying that the amendments could include increasing the number of drugs that are subject to negotiations under the bill, and providing more “clarity” around lifting a ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices.

Progressives have been pushing Pelosi for months to make changes to the proposal. The legislation could come up for a vote in the House as soon as next week.

It remains unclear whether leadership will allow floor votes on progressive amendments. A spokesman for Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment on that question on Tuesday.

The underlying bill allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for at least 35 drugs, up to a maximum of 250 drugs.

Progressives have been pushing to lift the minimum number so that more drugs can be negotiated.

There is also concern among progressives that the bill does not fully repeal the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices, which has long been a priority for Democrats. Rather, the bill creates an exception to the ban for those 250 or fewer drugs. Pocan indicated he wanted changes to broaden the lifting of the ban.

Pocan, though, did not say he would vote against the bill if progressives did not get changes, noting that the measure has a “good foundation.”

“If you've got a good foundation, why wouldn't you want to cover more drugs?” he asked.

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to advance the measure on Tuesday. Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettOvernight Health Care: Fauci says family has faced threats | Moderna to charge to a dose for its vaccine | NYC adding checkpoints to enforce quarantine GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals Gilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 MORE (D-Texas), a progressive member of the committee, proposed a range of amendments to make the bill tougher, including making sure uninsured people get access to the lower prices under the bill and to end the ban on Medicare negotiation.

Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealConservatives urge Trump to take unilateral action to suspend payroll tax collection Treasury to conduct policy review of tax-exempt status for universities after Trump tweets Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility MORE (D-Mass.) told The Hill on Tuesday that he is opposed to adopting Doggett’s amendments while the legislation is at the committee level.

“We intend to stick with the measure in front of us,” Neal said.

He declined to say if he had policy disagreements with Doggett’s proposals.

“I think that we are going to stick with the chairman's mark,” he said, referring to the version of the bill that he introduced.