Politics Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party

23:00  15 september  2021
23:00  15 september  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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Democrats' signature legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee on Wednesday as three moderate Democrats voted against their party.

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party © Greg Nash Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party

Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats.

The vote is a striking setback for Democrats' $3.5 trillion package. Drug pricing is intended to be a key way to pay for the package. Leadership can still add a version of the provision back later in the process, but the move shows the depth of some moderate concerns.

Overnight Health Care — Democrats face setback on drug pricing

  Overnight Health Care — Democrats face setback on drug pricing Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care, where we're following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.It's been over a week, and the zebras running loose in Maryland-which were definitely not freed by Eleanor Holmes Norton- are still out there. Be safe! Three Democrats in the House voted against a drug pricing amendment, throwing the party's signature plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs into question. For The Hill, we're Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com).

The three moderates said they worried the measure would harm innovation from drug companies and pushed a scaled-back rival measure. The pharmaceutical industry has also attacked Democratic leaders' measure, known as H.R. 3, as harming innovation.

The three lawmakers had long signaled their concerns with the drug pricing measure, but actually voting it down in the House Energy and Commerce Committee is an escalation.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) had implored the three lawmakers to vote in favor of the measure to at least keep the process going.

"Vote to move forward today," he said to the moderates in his party. "Vote to continue the conversation."

Still, Pallone said he is confident that some form of measure to lower drug prices will make it into the final package. The House legislation was already expected to change before the final version, given moderate Democratic concerns in the Senate as well. Senate Democrats are working on their own bill, which is not yet finalized but is expected to be less far-reaching.

Centrist Democrats scramble House drug pricing effort

  Centrist Democrats scramble House drug pricing effort The moderates' stand could complicate Democrats’ push to reform a slew of federal health programs as part of their $3.5 trillion bill.Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) joined Republicans in voting against leadership-backed drug pricing language at the end of a three-day House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of the sweeping package. The 29-29 tie vote meant the provision could not advance.

"I know it is going to have drug pricing reform," Pallone said of the final bill, noting that negotiations with the Senate would continue over the coming weeks.

Still, the move on Wednesday is a show of force from the moderates.

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Democrats were not giving up on including drug pricing measures.

"Polling consistently shows immense bipartisan support for Democrats' drug price negotiation legislation, including overwhelming majorities of Republicans and independents who are fed up with Big Pharma charging Americans so much more than they charge for the same medicines overseas," he said in a statement after the vote. "Delivering lower drug costs is a top priority of the American people and will remain a cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act as work continues between the House, Senate and White House on the final bill."

Updated at 3:21 p.m.

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