White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices ‘unworkable’

Greg Nash

President Trump’s top health care adviser called Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plan to lower drug prices “unworkable” while endorsing a bipartisan bill in the Senate. 

“Nancy Pelosi’s bill right now is unworkable, it’s impractical, and it’s hyperpartisan and it is not going to pass in its current form,” Joe Grogan, head of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, told reporters Friday. 

The Speaker’s bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, a concept that is described as “socialist” and “price-setting” by Republicans. 

Instead, Grogan said he’s working with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on a bill that ties Medicare drug prices to the rate of inflation while capping what seniors pay out-of-pocket for their prescriptions.{mosads}

“We are very supportive of the Grassley-Wyden compromise. It is the product of a really good, bipartisan, collaborate approach to solving drug pricing,” Grogan said. 

Passing drug pricing legislation is a top priority for Trump and Democrats, but there are roadblocks in finding agreement. 

Pelosi and the White House have negotiated on drug pricing legislation since Democrats won back the House last year, but she won’t budge on a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

House Democrats need to “cut back on some of these things that are not going to end up on the president’s desk,” Grogan said.

Grogan expressed frustration with the timeline. The government is quickly approaching another spending bill deadline, and Congress has limited days left in the year to pass legislation. 

House Democrats don’t plan to vote on Pelosi’s bill until December. 

“We’re done with ideas. Now we’ve got to get a solution, and we got to get a score by the Congressional Budget Office, we got to get a deal, we got to get on the president’s desk,” he said. 

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a statement Friday “big PhRMA” is pushing the White House against her bill. 

“House Democrats are taking the bold action to negotiate lower drug prices that President Trump always claimed was necessary, and the working people won’t like it if he sells them out on one of the most important kitchen table issues in America right now,” Connelly said. 

Meanwhile, the Grassley-Wyden bill is facing an uphill battle in the Senate. 

It has some support from Republicans, but many also oppose it, particularly the provision that requires drug companies pay back Medicare if their prices rise faster than inflation.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might be hesitant to call the bill for a vote on the floor given that some of his most politically vulnerable members have declined to support it.

“This is an issue that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together and get done, and unfortunately there are some complications on that front,” Grogan said. 

“[Inflation caps] were not the administration’s proposal, but they are the product of a bipartisan compromise, and they are the route to a bipartisan bill, in our opinion.”

Tags Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Joe Grogan Medicare Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Ron Wyden
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