Democratic chairmen say they are not giving up on adding drug pricing measure

Democratic chairmen say they are not giving up on adding drug pricing measure
© Greg Nash

Two Democratic committee chairmen said Thursday that they are not giving up on including provisions to lower prescription drug prices in President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE's social spending package after it was left out of a framework released by the White House. 

"We're staying at it. This is too important," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy & Environment — High court will hear case on water rule Democrats face scaled-back agenda after setbacks Biden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  MORE (D-Ore.). "I've had a number of conversations on that this morning."
 
A House Energy and Commerce Committee aide said Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) "does not think the Build Back Better Act can pass the House without meaningful reforms to lower the cost of prescription drugs."
 
But the path forward remains steep, given objections from a handful of moderate Democrats. 
 
One of those moderate Democrats, Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaGallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration The Armageddon elections to come MORE (D-Ariz.), reached an agreement with the White House on a far more scaled-back drug pricing measure, according to a source familiar with the talks. 
 
 
That proposal has been described as grossly inadequate by drug pricing advocates and by a key House Democratic chairman. 
 
A House Energy and Commerce Committee aide said Thursday that proposals like that "would be unable to pass in the House," and "would do functionally nothing to lower prescription drug prices for the American people."
 
"It’s a trojan horse devised by Big Pharma to distract and undermine the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Caucus’ support for negotiating lower prescription drug prices," the aide added. 
 
Pallone said he is still working but he acknowledged that what he called pharmaceutical industry "lackeys" might succeed in killing the effort. 
 
"We're still trying to get drug pricing included in the bill, and I do believe it will be, but if it doesn't, the only reason it doesn't is because of pharma and their lackeys in the Congress," Pallone said. 
 
 
"My hope is that at the end of the day it does get into the final bill," she said. 
 
Drug pricing advocates were extremely frustrated Thursday that the party appeared to be coming up short on one of its signature campaign promises. 
 
AARP said it was outraged that the package left out Medicare negotiation of drug prices. 
 
“Voters 50+ are a major force in every election and they expect the President and Congress to keep their promises and let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices," said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond. "They need to include these provisions in the package before they can expect seniors to support it.”