Pelosi introduces plan to negotiate drug prices

Speaker of the House Nany Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats introduced a new bill Sept. 19 aimed at lowering drug prices.

The legislation, known as the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, aims to lower prescription medication prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for up to 250 of the costliest drugs, The Washington Post reported. The bill has not yet been released, but it is known insulin would also be included in this group of medications. The Washington Post called the plan “ambitious.”

“For years, seniors & families across America have struggled under the sky-rocketing costs of prescription drugs they need to stay healthy,” Pelosi tweeted Thursday.

Employer health plans and other buyers would also have access to these lower negotiated prices. For seniors on Medicare Part D, co-pay are limited to $2,000 under the plan.

The plan comes as the Trump administration has been focused on reducing drug prices, but prices still climbed at the start of 2019. Specifically, the Trump administration has looked at cutting Medicare drug prices through an executive order and required drugmakers to publish their list prices in TV ads. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is an idea that has been floated for several years, but never truly come to fruition in approved legislation. The federal program currently has no power to do so.

The Trump administration has also proposed basing Medicare drug prices on an international index. Pelosi appears to agree that the U.S. pays vastly more than other countries for the same drugs.

“Americans shouldn’t pay more for their prescriptions than people in other countries,” Pelosi wrote in a tweet Thursday.

Pelosi’s bill similarly allows Medicare to negotiate rates determined by international prices. According to the Post, drugmakers would also be forced to pay rebates if they push their drug price increases above inflation rates.

Republican critics were quick to oppose the legislation, with Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) calling is a “socialist proposal,” the Post reported.

The bill could be taken up by committees next week, NPR revealed.

“Something needs to be done, and Democrats are determined to get the job done. We promised we would do it, and we’re going to do it,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) said at a press conference with Pelosi and House Democrats Thursday.