Biden Prodded to ‘Go Big’ on Drug Pricing

Democrats are urging the White House to include their health policy ideas in the next phase of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure push, with hopes of gaining an edge over colleagues with competing plans.

Congressional leaders, top senators, and rank-and-file Democrats say they’ve put in calls or made trips to the White House this week plugging legislation to broaden health insurance, expand Medicare, or lower drug prices. But Biden has kept quiet on whether he intends to include health care as part of the next phase of his infrastructure plan, which has left some lawmakers fearful it’s being left out.

“I’ve talked with folks at the White House and I know other colleagues have as well because we’d love very much to see something on Medicare” in a new Biden infrastructure proposal, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told reporters.

The next piece of Biden’s massive infrastructure and economic proposal, called the American FamiliesPlan, isn’t expected to include boosting health coverage or reduce prescription drug costs, The New York Times reported yesterday. White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, didn’t mentioning any health care policies while outlining what would be included in that plan.

Sens. Stabenow, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced a bill this week that would let Americans beginning at age 50 buy into Medicare. Stabenow said the White House hasn’t indicated if Biden would support their measure.

Their measure shares the same goal as Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) drive to expand Medicare eligibility broadly to Americans starting at age 55. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who helped to lead a unity task force between progressive Democrats like herself and the Biden team, said she’s also pushing to include a Medicare expansion.

In addition, House leaders yesterday reintroduced their signature drug-pricing measure that would direct the government to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices on certain drugs, hoping it will become part of the infrastructure plan. “Lowering health costs and prescription drug prices will be a top priority for House Democrats to be included in the American Families Plan,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. Alex Ruoff has more.

Drug Pricing Group to Launch Ads: A drug pricing group will launch ads in response to the report that Biden’s next plan will exclude drug cost reduction initiatives, Alex Ruoff reports. The Patients for Affordable Drugs Now is launching ads to run on broadcast and cable news in the Washington D.C. TV market, and on multiple digital platforms, Alex Ruoff reports. The campaign launches today with a new ad highlighting Biden’s promise to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. It will also include patient mobilization and other activities.


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