Moderate Democrats Introduce Rival Drug Pricing Plan, Imperiling Pelosi-Backed Proposal

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A group of five moderate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a new bill to slash drug costs, signaling their party may be unable to muster enough votes to pass a larger drug pricing proposal.

The larger plan is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden. It is part of of congressional Democrats $3.5 trillion budget package. It includes letting Medicare negotiate drug prices.

But Democrats can only afford so many defections, clinging to an eight-member majority in the lower chamber. And the new bill is seen by some as a direct challenge to the larger plan, which is being marked up 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, telling news outlets in a statement, “I support many of the proposals being considered this week, but I do not support advancing policies that are not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill’s final passage.”

“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,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) added. “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 have competition because they lack exclusivity. It would also limit price increases on some drugs and eliminate loopholes in law dealing with pricing.

“Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table and filling a prescription. Our plan will drastically lower out-of-pocket drug costs for consumers, as Democrats have promised, while we preserve American jobs and investment in future innovation,” Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Lou Correa (D-Calif.) also sponsored the new bill.

By Zachary Stieber

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To amend titles XI, XVIII, and XIX of the Social Security Act to lower prescription drug prices in the Medicare and Medicaid programs PDF


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