In particular, Peters said, nearly a month ago Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) did not deviate from her stance against the current drug price reforms under discussion.
“Senator Sinema is not yet in favor of any proposal to deal with prescription drugs,” he said in an interview this week. “And I’m trying to get her to cross my path because I honestly think it would be good to let this matter rest.”
Sinema’s spokesman John LaBombard refuted Peters’ characterization of the senators’ position, saying Sinema “carefully reviews various proposals on the matter” in its “direct negotiations” on the $3.5 trillion package. Sinema generally supports the idea of lowering drug prices, but has declined to say which proposals she would support.
Nevertheless, the inability to reach a consensus on the issue of prescription drug prices is just one of many hurdles Democrats have yet to overcome as they rush to meet their new October 31 deadline. While a number of other Democrats are known to be reluctant to support the drug pricing provision, Sinema’s support is imperative in the 50-50 Senate. To achieve a breakthrough, Biden’s team is increasingly involved in shaping the talks as they decide how many programs to cut and which to scrap from the plan entirely.
For months, the White House had largely deferred leaders on Capitol Hill to smooth out disagreements over crucial prescription drug policies. But in recent weeks, it has actively reached out to moderates in the House and Senate to push for their support and has emphasized the importance of drug pricing in meetings with lawmakers. Peters said the White House has recently involved him more directly in drug pricing and that “we understand where each other is better.”
White House officials have also taken note of the unlikely similarity between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) on allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, viewing the provision as one of the package’s many big priorities, according to a source known. is with the thinking of the administration. Reducing the cost of prescription drugs is one of the more popular elements of Biden’s plan, and many Democrats see it as key to their success in the midterms of 2022 and beyond. That’s especially true as previous commitments to lower the Medicare age and create a public insurance option have been sidelined.
Many lawmakers, including Peters, say they are confident they can still find a middle ground between the sweeping HR.3 bill favored by progressives and that would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies. and the version pushed by House centrists who offer lower prices on a much more limited range of drugs. Members argue that a watered-down drug negotiation bill may be the best they can hope for, given Democrats’ narrow voting margins and an onslaught from opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
“There will still be some” [drugs] that will remain at the higher price, but that’s how the compromise works out,” said Representative Susan Wild (D-Penn.), a frontline member active in policy talks. “I’m fine with that, if that’s what we need to get it through. But I still cringe at the idea that Americans would ever pay more than other countries for an identical drug. I just think that’s outrageous.”
The House progressives, outside interest groups and Sanders are still pushing for the most aggressive version of the bill, accusing those who oppose it of paying shillings to the pharmaceutical industry. People in this camp say they’re concerned that a narrower, more moderate bill for prescription drugs won’t deliver the federal savings needed to expand the party’s plans to expand Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. succeeds in delivering on campaign promises to reduce patient care costs.
While negotiations continue behind the scenes, lawmakers in both camps say they are not clear on where each other stands.
“I have heard that [Sen. Sinema] is against Medicare negotiating the prices of prescription drugs,” Sanders told reporters on Thursday, lamenting not hearing directly from her what she wants to vote for. “That’s what I’ve heard. Maybe I’m wrong.”
sen. Bob Menendez (DN.J.), an unknown key to drug pricing who previously criticized his colleagues for using the pharmaceutical industry as a “piggy bank” to pay for other priorities, is also frustrated by a lack of details.
“Discussions versus actually receiving a proposal are two different things,” he said. “Show me a proposal and I’ll tell you how I feel.”
Members of Congress and outside attorneys said the recent clashes over raising the debt ceiling and passing a temporary spending bill have distracted them and consumed valuable time they could have spent setting the pricing of drugs and other components of the drug. the law of reconciliation.
And with just weeks to come to an agreement, the list of unresolved questions surrounding the bill remains long. How much and what kind of drugs will be negotiated? Will the government use an international or domestic benchmark for those negotiations, and how will they punish pharmaceutical companies that refuse to comply? How much can the government reclaim from companies that raise prices faster than inflation?
Another important question is whether Democrats can and should apply the prices Medicare negotiates outside of Medicare so that people who get their insurance through work or in the individual market can take advantage of it.
Many lawmakers and outside attorneys say the Senate MP is unlikely to make an effort to extend the lower prices to private insurance plans, though her office has yet to formally rule on the matter. Some are already arguing that losing the broader policy is an acceptable sacrifice.
“History shows that changes made to Medicare almost always migrate to the private sector,” Senate Treasury Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) recently told reporters. “Because Medicare is the flagship of the federal program, and when the private sector learns about… [the lower drug prices], they are going to insist on it.”
Above the whole debate over prescription drug policy hangs the prospect of failure and what it would mean for both the Democratic Party and the larger bill itself. Some in the party fear it would be tempting to backfire seriously, for example if it promises to cut drug prices across the board but most of the country doesn’t sign up for private insurance.
“I don’t think it will be very popular to tell voters, ‘Sorry, you’re too young to have access to affordable prescriptions,'” a lawyer familiar with the negotiations told Mediafrolic.
Sanders agreed, telling Mediafrolic Democrats should still fight for the policy’s inclusion, even if it risks being eliminated by the MP, rather than preemptively knocking it out.
Democrats also warn that if lawmakers scale back prescription drug policies too far, it will force them to make additional, painful sacrifices elsewhere.
“HR.3 came with a certain amount of revenue,” Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.). “What if that turnover is suddenly halved? That will really negatively impact what we can do about healthcare, and members will get angry about that. For every action there are side reactions.”