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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 PelosiObama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE’s (D-Calif.) bill to lower drug prices unless they can win changes before then.

Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanCapitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election 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 DoggettCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Ocasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line 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 NealOvernight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households 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.