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 WaldenHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Top House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive 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 BradyStimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive Trump signs executive orders aimed at lowering drug prices MORE (R-Texas), Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO CEO Greenwood says US failed for years to heed warnings of coming pandemic; Trump: Fauci won't testify to 'a bunch of Trump haters' MORE (R-N.C.) and Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsSunday shows preview: White House, Democratic leaders struggle for deal on coronavirus bill Trump and Biden tied in Georgia: poll Democrats blister Barr during tense hearing 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 TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE is supporting a bipartisan drug pricing bill in the Senate from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Timeline for GOP's Obama probe report slips as chairman eyes subpoenas MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock 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.