House GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote

House GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote
© Greg Nash

House Republicans on Monday unveiled a measure aimed at lowering drug prices, casting it as a bipartisan alternative to the sweeping bill that Democrats plan to vote on this week. 

Republicans said they designed their measure to include only policies that both parties can agree to, saying Congress could pass their bipartisan bill rather than the Democratic legislation, which is expected to pass on a largely party-line vote. 

The Republican legislation is significantly smaller-scale than the Democratic bill. It does not include anything that Republicans deem “price controls” for drugs, which the GOP argues would hinder the development of new treatments. 

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The Democratic bill, in contrast, would limit drug prices based on the prices paid in other countries and allow for the government to negotiate lower prices, both ideas opposed by House Republicans. 

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Ex-Rep. John Shimkus joins lobbying firm Lobbying world MORE (Ore.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the GOP bill would “bring down the cost of medicines while not upending the incredible innovation that's centered here in the U.S.”

The measure is also sponsored by Reps. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyYellen confident of minimum global corporate tax passage in Congress 136 countries agree to deal on global minimum tax Rift widens between business groups and House GOP MORE (R-Texas), Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxSixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine Republicans unveil bill to ban federal funding of critical race theory Biden extends pause on student loan payments to 2022 MORE (R-N.C.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R-Ga.), the top Republicans on other committees that oversee health care. 

Given Democratic control of the House, the Republican bill is not expected to pass, but it does provide a marker for some policies that could be agreeable to both parties and could be included in larger packages like government funding measures.

The bill includes a range of measures, such as capping out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare, cracking down on tactics drug companies use to delay competition from cheaper generic drugs and requiring drug companies to submit justifications to the government for large price hikes. 

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While the pharmaceutical industry is far more opposed to the Democratic bill, there are some provisions in the Republican bill that the industry opposes as well, such as a provision requiring drug prices to be listed in TV advertisements for drugs. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE is supporting a bipartisan drug pricing bill in the Senate from Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Best shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say MORE (D-Ore.), but House Republicans oppose a key provision of that deal. 

That provision would require drug companies to pay money back to Medicare if their prices rose faster than the rate of inflation. Many Republicans view that as a “price control,” but Wyden and Democrats say that provision is crucial to the bipartisan deal. 

Walden said Monday he is “not a fan” of that provision because it is “government-run price controls,” but he noted there are many other areas of overlap between the House Republican bill and the Grassley-Wyden legislation.