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Pelosi Releases Prescription Drug Pricing Plan, McConnell Says It’s DOA

Michael Rainey

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a proposal Thursday that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The plan is less aggressive than the outline (which we discussed here) that circulated last week, according to Politico’s Sarah Karlin-Smith and Adam Cancryn.

Here are some of the proposal’s key features:

  • It would allow Medicare to negotiate prices on a minimum of the 25 most expensive drugs, up to a maximum of 250. “Earlier discussions in Pelosi's office envisioned mandating that 250 drugs be subject to negotiations each year,” Politico notes.
  • It would penalize drug companies that raise prices faster than inflation.
  • It would set an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $2,000 for Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer promoted the Democrat’s plan Thursday, citing the high cost of drugs in the U.S. relative to other countries: “In my home state of Maryland, the list price for insulin is twenty-one times that in Australia; fourteen times the price in the United Kingdom; and twelve times the cost in Canada. Uninsured people living in my district [pay] six times more for an epi-pen than Australians pay and nine times more than the cost in Great Britain. That’s just unsustainable, unacceptable.”

Not likely to pass anytime soon: The proposal is already receiving stiff resistance from the pharmaceutical industry, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the plan would not be considered in the Senate. “Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system,” McConnell said Thursday. “And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that.”

Read the bill text here.

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