Although Democrats now hold the reigns of power in Washington, if only by the slimmest of margins, they are far from unanimous agreement on many of the issues facing our nation. Included among those are the cost of health care and access to it.
This week President Biden will speak to the nation about his economic plan called the “American Family Plan.” There is real concern among some Democrats that Biden will not include major health care policies in the plan, especially a plan to lower prescription drug costs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) is among those Democrats who are concerned that Biden will not address drug prices and because of that, last week House Democrats reintroduced their signature legislation to lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3.
Speaker Pelosi pointedly noted in a statement that including it in Biden's proposal is important for Democratic lawmakers. The measure would allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held Democratic goal.
Democrats are also divided about how to spend the roughly $500 billion in savings that their drug pricing measure is estimated to generate. Democratic progressives are pushing to lower the eligibility age for Medicare, and to expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision benefits.
However, Speaker Pelosi wants to spend the savings on making permanent an increase in ObamaCare subsidies that help people afford premiums.
Whether or not President Biden includes health care measures in his American Family Plan, it is possible that House Democrats will put the drug pricing measure and other health provisions back in the bill even if the White House leaves them out of the initial package.
Speaker Pelosi said she wants infrastructure to be bipartisan, but Republicans oppose Medicare price negotiation. So if the Democrats are split among themselves, passing legislation will be a real up-hill climb.
Legislation to lower drug prices is one of TSCL’s top legislative goals this year so we are watching this development with great interest and we will be working hard to get some kind of legislation passed to fix the problem.