Vulnerable House Democrats call for sweeping drug price reforms in spending plan
But that plan, which was passed by the House two years ago, has met with new resistance within this Congress even as its prospects of becoming law become more real. A separate group of 10 Democratic centrists has already warned Pelosi and his leadership team that they would not support the drug price negotiation component if it were added to the party’s larger spending plan. Instead, this group – many of whom have a large pharmaceutical industry presence in their districts – have pushed for more gradual changes that can win the support of the GOP.
Leading Democrats are still seeking to include some form of drug price reform in their budget resolution, which would help fund other health priorities, such as subsidizing Obamacare plans and expanding Medicare benefits, a senior Senate official confirmed on Wednesday. But exactly what the party will be able to push through remains unclear. Democrats face not only slim margins, but fierce lobbying against Big Pharma’s proposals as well.
Pelosi pledged to lobby for a more drastic drug price bill known as HR 3, which would allow Medicare to downgrade the price of hundreds of drugs while pushing those prices down. ‘other public and private insurance plans.
The provision would save about $ 456 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office – a figure cited by House Democrats keen to include it in the spending plan.
“We can and should use these savings to reinvest in our health care system,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Is working on his own drug pricing plan, which aims to add some form of government negotiation to the bipartisan bill he developed with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in the last Congress. But several moderate Democrats in both chambers stay opposed, enough to threaten the passage of measures given the narrow margins of the party.
Wyden told POLITICO he was spending “a [his] waking hours … shuttling between progressives and moderates trying to strike a deal. One sticking point has been the exact mechanism for cutting drug costs, and Wyden confirmed that some caucus members were reluctant to tie prices to what other countries pay for the same drugs.
“Suffice it to say a lot of members have concerns about this and we are trying to find common ground,” he said.
Alice Miranda Ollstein contributed to this report.