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House drug pricing measure in trouble as three Democrats announce opposition

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Three House Democrats on Tuesday announced intraparty opposition to legislation that would allow direct drug price negotiations between the government and pharmaceutical companies, imperiling the measure's advancement at the committee level.

The three "no" votes would be enough to tie up the total House Energy and Commerce Committee vote if all Republican members oppose it as well.

BIDEN RELEASES PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN THAT WOULD LET GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATE DRUG PRICES

California Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee working to approve the provision as part of a partisan multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and social spending bill, said Tuesday that he opposed it.

“I have proposed an alternative drug pricing reform model that will keep Democrats’ promise to lower out-of-pocket costs for medicines, in part by empowering the secretary of health and human services to negotiate prices,” Peters said on Tuesday.

Peters and fellow Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader from Oregon, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, drafted a narrower alternative to the more sweeping measure favored by the liberal wing of the party, known as H.R. 3, that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies. GOP lawmakers have long opposed direct negotiation of drug prices, saying that doing so would stifle innovation of future cures and treatments.

Schrader also announced Tuesday that he would not support the more sweeping drug pricing bill.

"We need to be serious about how to address this issue by ensuring we champion legislation with broadly supported policies that have the bipartisan, bicameral backing needed to pass Congress," Schrader said, according to a statement from his office. "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 rival legislation from Peters and Schrader would “preserve innovation” by giving the government narrower negotiating power for drugs that have no other competitors on the market. Peters's bill also has support from Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York, Lou Correa of California, and Stephanie Murphy of Florida.

Rice, also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, likewise announced Tuesday that she would not support the Democrats' drug pricing policies, which she said are "not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill's final passage."

While H.R. 3 would cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors under Medicare at $2,000, Peters's legislation would adjust the cap on out-of-pocket costs with income, ranging from $1,200 to $3,100, so that the poorest seniors enrolled in the government healthcare program would get the greatest amount of assistance.

Peters said in a statement Tuesday that he looked forward to working with his Democratic colleagues to “achieve reforms that help patients, support future innovation and grow American jobs.”

House Democrats first passed H.R. 3, or the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, in December 2019, but it stalled before getting a vote in the then-majority-GOP Senate. The Congressional Budget Office, a federal agency that provides economic advice to Congress, estimated that the price negotiation provision in H.R. 3 could save the federal government more than $456 billion over a decade. The CBO has not yet issued an updated score for the Peters bill or for other healthcare proposals being pushed by Democrats in this Congress, such as expanded benefits under Medicare to include hearing, dental, and vision coverage.

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The Energy and Commerce Committee reconvened Tuesday morning to debate the Democrats’ drug price negotiation proposal, which the party plans to include in the $3.5 trillion social infrastructure package known as the Build Back Better Act in the House.

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Tags: Healthcare, News, Biden Administration, House Democrats, House Energy and Commerce Committee, House GOP, Infrastructure

Original Author: Cassidy Morrison

Original Location: House drug pricing measure in trouble as three Democrats announce opposition

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