A group of five moderate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a new bill to lower drug costs, indicating that their party may be unable to garner enough votes to pass a massive drug pricing motion.
The big plan is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden. It is part of Congressional Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget package. This includes letting Medicare negotiate drug prices.
But Democrats can only defect so many, sticking to an eight-member majority in the lower house. And the new bill is seen by some as a direct challenge to the bigger plan, which is being flagged by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D.N.Y.), one of the sponsors of the new bill, a member of the panel, and a critic of Pelosi in the past, indicated as much in a statement, telling news outlets, “I support many people. I am considering proposals this week, but I do not support pursuing policies that are not financially responsible and jeopardize the final passage of the bill.”
Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) said, “We need to get serious about addressing this issue by making sure we champion legislation with broadly supported policies that require bipartisan, bicameral support. ” “I do not believe the drug pricing provision before the Energy and Commerce Committee today will meet this goal and succeed in the Senate, so I cannot vote in favor of the title.”
The bill (PDF) would let Medicare negotiate drug prices, but only for a subset of drugs that no longer compete because they lack exclusivity. It will also limit price hikes on certain drugs and plug loopholes in legislation dealing with pricing.
“No one should have to choose between putting food on the table and filling prescriptions. As Democrats have promised, our plan will significantly reduce drug costs for consumers while we preserve American jobs and investment in future innovation,” Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) said in a statement. said in.
Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Lou Correa (D-Cal.) also sponsored the new bill.
If four or more Democrats vote against the Pelosi-backed plan, it will fail to pass. No Republicans have indicated support for that plan, and most have opposed.
A Pelosi spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Progressive groups denounced the Democrat split, urging people to convene delegates and get them behind the second plan.
“Rep. Peters, Rice, and Schrader are prioritizing drug company profits over lower drug prices for the American people, especially patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis,” said president of the Center for American Progress and CEO Patrick Gaspard said. Statement.
“Contrary to what they oppose, their opposition to the drugs proposal threatens the entirety of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which Democrats have campaigned for years and which they previously voted for,” he said. They said.
Murphy voiced concerns last week about spending in a $3.5 trillion budget package that Democrats want to ram through Congress without Republican support. She is not alone; Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they want a cut in the higher price tag, and nine congressmen, including Schrader and Rice, wrote to Pelosi in May demanding such a plan. that can move forward. Bipartisan support “with buyouts from a majority of Americans and stakeholders in the public and private sectors.”
Democrats hope to use the savings generated from drug pricing negotiations for other benefits, including expanding the public health care system.
Some of the provisions were in HR3, which was passed by the House of Representatives in 2019, but was not taken up by the Senate.
Pelosi told reporters in a recent call, “The bill calls for using savings from negotiating for drug prices—the savings from this can be used to expand dental, visual and hearing benefits for seniors.” Will be done.” For him.”
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times