Centrist House Democrats unveil rival proposal to lower drug prices

Greg Nash

A group of centrist House Democrats on Friday said they planned to introduce a scaled-back bill aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, an alternative to the more sweeping measure backed by House Democratic leaders. 

The move, led by Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), illustrates the concern among a handful of more moderate lawmakers about the far-reaching measure to lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3, that House Democratic leaders have included in their $3.5 trillion package now moving through committees.  

A summary of Peters and Schrader’s bill states that it would “preserve innovation” from drug companies. The pharmaceutical industry has attacked H.R. 3 as threatening innovation. 

The summary also states that it has policies with “bipartisan support,” in addition to lowering drug prices. 

The measure is also cosponsored by centrist Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Lou Correa (D-Calif.). 

The bill was first reported on Friday by The Wall Street Journal

While the new rival bill highlights the concerns of some moderates in the House with H.R. 3, that legislation was already widely expected to be altered before the final version of the bill, given the need to satisfy Senate Democratic moderates. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is working on alternative legislation that is expected to be less far-reaching, though that measure is not finalized. 

The center of H.R. 3 is allowing the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, with a cap on prices based on what other wealthy countries pay for drugs.  

The Peters-Schrader bill allows negotiation only in much narrower circumstances, when older drugs in a certain part of Medicare, known as Part B, no longer are protected by exclusivity but still do not face competition.

The bill also includes other measures, like capping what seniors in Medicare must pay out of pocket for drugs, that have wide support and are included in some form in H.R. 3 as well.

Tags Kathleen Rice Kurt Schrader Lou Correa Ron Wyden Scott Peters Stephanie Murphy

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