McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign

McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign
© Greg Nash

Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGraham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill Trump considering suspending funding to WHO Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis MORE (R-Ariz.), facing a tough election campaign this year, on Friday unveiled the outline of a bill aimed at lowering drug prices that includes some breaks with GOP orthodoxy. 

McSally is putting a new focus on lowering drug prices, a top issue with voters, as she faces one of the most competitive races in the country this year. 

Earlier this month, she announced her support for a bipartisan measure from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPresident tightens grip on federal watchdogs Officials sound alarm over virus relief check scams Trump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision Officials sound alarm over virus relief check scams MORE (D-Ore.) to lower drug prices. 

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Now, she is also unveiling her own proposal. 

The bill is noteworthy because it includes some ideas usually more associated with Democrats, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but only in limited instances where there is a lack of market competition after a patent expires but when the company still has a monopoly. 

Details of that proposal, which will be key for understanding its breadth, were not available yet on Friday. McSally’s office said legislative text will be available next week. 

Democrats have championed much broader Medicare negotiations, not just for when a patent has expired, but essentially all Republicans oppose the idea as undue government interference in the market. 

McSally’s bill would also allow the importation of cheaper drugs from Canada. That idea has support from a few Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE, who is taking initial steps to allow states to import cheaper drugs from Canada. 

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“I’ve heard from too many Arizonans who have to leave their prescriptions at the counter or ration their medications below what their doctor prescribed because of skyrocketing drug costs,” McSally said in a statement. “This is unacceptable. Americans should not be forced to choose between their medications and paying their rent.”

Jacob Peters, a spokesman for the expected Democratic Arizona Senate nominee, Mark Kelly, said McSally is trying to undue her past health care record, including voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

Kelly, who leads McSally in recent polling, supports the more aggressive House Democrats' bill to lower drug prices. 

“Mark has spent months talking to Arizonans about bold solutions he supports to lower prescription drug costs, and it’s clear Senator McSally is trying to rewrite her years-long record on health care which includes voting to eliminate pre-existing conditions protections and failing to stand up to her big pharmaceutical PAC donors,” Peters said.