Biden Presses Congress to Act on Prescription Drug Prices

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Politics|Biden presses Congress to determination connected medicine drug-price controls.

President Joe Biden speaks connected  medicine   cause   prices successful  the East Room of the White House successful  Washington today.
Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Jonathan Weisman

  • Aug. 12, 2021, 1:48 p.m. ET

President Biden connected Thursday implored Congress to see strict controls connected medicine cause prices successful the mammoth societal argumentation measure that Democrats program to draught this fall, hitting connected an contented that his predecessor campaigned connected but failed to deliver.

Mr. Biden said helium wants astatine slightest 3 measures included successful the $3.5 trillion societal argumentation measure that Democrats anticipation to walk utilizing fund rules that would support it from a Republican filibuster. He wants Medicare to beryllium granted the powerfulness to negociate little cause prices, pharmaceutical companies to look penalties if they rise prices faster than inflation, and a caller headdress connected however overmuch Medicare recipients person to walk connected medications.

“There aren’t a batch of things that astir each American could hold on,” Mr. Biden said astatine the White House. “But I deliberation it is harmless to accidental that each of us, immoderate our inheritance oregon our property and wherever we live, could hold that medicine cause prices are outrageously costly successful America.”

The president was pushing connected an unfastened door. Congressional Democrats person already said they privation to see each 3 measures successful the alleged reconciliation measure that House and Senate committees anticipation to assemble.

“The Finance Committee volition beryllium a cardinal portion of the statement erstwhile it comes to lowering Americans’ wellness attraction costs and making high-quality wellness attraction disposable to much families,” the committee’s chairman, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, said arsenic Senate Democrats unveiled the $3.5 trillion fund blueprint that would let them to walk the authorities without a Republican vote.

Democrats person been pushing for astir of the measures for years, against fierce absorption from the almighty pharmaceutical manufacture and Republican leaders, who explicitly banned terms negotiations erstwhile they passed a medicine cause payment for Medicare successful 2003.

But Donald J. Trump broke with Republican orthodoxy successful 2016 erstwhile helium railed against the cause lobby and vowed to fto Medicare usage its purchasing powerfulness to thrust for bargains, the mode the Veterans Affairs Department already does. As president, Mr. Trump besides tried to set cause prices against the overmuch little prices paid successful Europe.

Mr. Wyden worked with Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, connected a bipartisan cause pricing measure for overmuch of the Trump presidency, but Republican leaders ignored the entreaties, and Mr. Trump made nary effort to enlist Democrats, who mostly agreed with him.

Now it is Mr. Biden’s turn. Even with his party’s afloat support, it volition not beryllium easy.

The pharmaceutical manufacture remains a potent unit successful Washington, recently fortified by the gratitude of voters for its accelerated improvement of coronavirus vaccines. Mr. Biden acknowledged that erstwhile helium began Thursday “by acknowledging the enactment that galore pharmaceutical companies are doing; look nary further than the vaccines they’re manufacturing and delivering that are helping america bushed this pandemic and prevention lives.”

Because the Senate is evenly divided betwixt Republican and Democratically-aligned lawmakers, a azygous defection connected immoderate 1 contented could unit it to beryllium rejected from the wide package. With a three-vote borderline successful the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California does not person it overmuch easier, and cause makers volition unit House members whose districts beryllium connected their jobs and profits.

Mr. Trump’s past propulsion volition not supply immoderate benignant of governmental shield from Republican attacks. FreedomWorks, a blimpish radical that allied itself with the erstwhile president, instantly denounced “Biden’s latest telephone connected Congress to enforce socialist cause terms controls.”

Pushing the contented guardant volition beryllium fashionable sentiment — lowering cause prices has agelong been a precedence for voters — and the request to find ways to wage for $3.5 trillion successful spending connected clime change, acquisition expansion, household and aesculapian leave, kid attraction and elder care. Lower cause prices for Medicare unsocial could prevention the authorities billions of dollars, depending connected however negotiations are structured.

But the Congressional Budget Office cautioned that negotiating powerfulness unsocial would person small impact. The negotiations would person to beryllium tied to circumstantial medications, and Medicare would person to beryllium consenting to driblet a cause from its accepted sum database if a institution does not budge.

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