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 WaldenOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns 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 BradyMnuchin says Social Security recipients will automatically get coronavirus checks Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing Democrat refuses to yield House floor, underscoring tensions on coronavirus vote MORE (R-Texas), Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis Congress debating ways to help boost economy hit by coronavirus Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus MORE (R-N.C.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsJustice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Loeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic Georgia makes it easier to get mail-in ballots after delaying primary 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 John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE is supporting a bipartisan drug pricing bill in the Senate from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill Democrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Democrats say more unemployment benefits needed in wake of record unemployment claims Democrats fear coronavirus impact on November turnout 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.