Democratic leaders in the US House of Representatives and the Senate are pushing for legislation that would allow the US government to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers people aged 65 and older, as well as people with disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease.
The effort is led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who are working on separate bills. The House bill would allow the government to negotiate prices for up to 250 prescription drugs, while the Senate bill would focus on fewer drugs. The bills are expected to be introduced this month.
The proposal is part of Democrats’ broader agenda to lower healthcare costs and make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all Americans. They argue that high prescription drug prices are one of the biggest drivers of healthcare costs and that allowing the government to negotiate prices would save billions of dollars for taxpayers and beneficiaries.
However, the proposal has faced opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, which argues that it would stifle innovation and lead to fewer new drugs being developed. The industry has also argued that it already provides significant discounts to Medicare beneficiaries through various programs and that the government should focus on addressing other factors that drive up drug costs, such as rebates and middlemen.
Despite the opposition, Democrats remain optimistic that they can pass legislation to allow drug price negotiations, given that they control both chambers of Congress and the White House. However, they will likely face pushback from Republicans, who have traditionally opposed government intervention in drug pricing and have close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.