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White House hits back at prescription drugs, accuses McConnell of supporting Big Pharma ‘welfare’

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EXCLUSIVE: The White House is hitting back at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s criticism of the Democrats’ spending bill — particularly on prescription drugs — accusing him of supporting ‘big social welfare’. pharmaceutical companies,” while saying President Biden is committed to middle-class families and reducing the deficit.

The White House comments came after McConnell, R-Ky., spoke in the Senate on Monday, criticizing the Democrats’ reconciliation plan that would allow Medicare to regulate prescription drug prices.

McConnell said the Biden administration and congressional Democrats “want to impose socialist price controls between America’s innovators and new cures for debilitating diseases.”

In response, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told Fox News on Tuesday that McConnell was “resorting to talking points that Big Pharma is spending millions on airwaves in opposition to the anti- President’s inflation, which would reduce the deficit and finally allow Medicare to negotiate down the exorbitant prescription drug costs that have driven so many American families out of business.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Democrats’ reconciliation plan will negatively impact the country, while President Biden is urging Congress to pass the bill.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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“The American people are forced to pay two to three times what citizens of other countries do for these drugs, and for too long Medicare has been barred by law from using their leverage to save consumers money and of taxpayers – the welfare of big pharma that the industry has lobbied and Senator McConnell has supported for nearly two decades,” Bates said.

Bates added, “When it comes to choosing between the bottom line of middle-class families or special interests driving up hard-working prices to boost record profits, the president knows exactly where he stands.”

As for prescription drugs in the reconciliation package, Democrats seek to give Medicare the power to negotiate a better deal on some of the most expensive drugs. Currently, Medicare does not have the right to negotiate drug prices.

The legislation would also require rebates from pharmaceutical companies that raise prices faster than inflation and impose caps on recipients of $2,000 per year. One official said the provision would give Americans “the financial security of knowing their pharmacy fees are capped.”

The United States Capitol building in Washington, November 2, 2020.

The United States Capitol building in Washington, November 2, 2020.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Democrats also say the legislation would help reduce the deficit.

But McConnell and Republicans warn that the bill is waging a “war” on America’s medical innovation sector.

“Democrats in Washington are working right now to find ways to put more bureaucracy between American patients and the treatments they rely on,” McConnell said in his speech on the floor Monday. “They want to put socialist price controls between American innovators and new cures for debilitating diseases.”

McConnell warned that with “one-party democratic control of government, they could get away with it.”

McConnell also pointed out that the provisions would have “extremely, extremely negative consequences” for the country.

“The American people know that government can’t magically cut costs by passing laws saying things should cost less,” McConnell said, warning that “the bill will go to the American people who are living with real health issues. health”.

“The price of bigger government will be fewer lifesaving cures, less innovation in the future,” McConnell added, saying the legislation would ultimately shrink the pipeline of new therapies for patients with chronic conditions.

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“Prescription drugs with socialism would have devastating and aggravating effects,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats hoped pass a scan packet to brag about midterm, but in light of recent inflation numbers, Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., last week officially rejected efforts to raise taxes or pass energy and climate policies in the reconciliation package.

Senator Joe Manchin has criticized Democrats' policies on climate change.

Senator Joe Manchin has criticized Democrats’ policies on climate change.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Manchin, instead, said he would only support a bill that includes a provision to reduce prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of Affordable Care Act grants.

That leaves Democrats, in the Senate 50-50, with only prescription drug provisions and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in their legislation.

Democrats hope to pass the bill using the Senate Reconciliation Process to circumvent the filibuster threshold of 60 votes. This will give them a much-needed victory to bring to voters before members head home to campaign in August ahead of November’s midterm elections, even if it’s a far cry from the $3 trillion-plus bill. dollars that they originally wanted to pass last year.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Jason Donner contributed to this report.

Joan J. Dean

The author Joan J. Dean