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Has Big Pharma Bought Enough Democrats to Derail Biden’s Plan?

Polling tells us that when it comes to health care issues, the top priority of Americans is lowering prescription drug prices. While this remains a divided country on many issues, there is absolute unity on the question of how to achieve this particular goal.

Eighty-eight percent of all Americans surveyed in May by the KFF Health Tracking Poll expressed support for a Democratic plan to allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices on medications. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans, 89 percent of independents, and 96 percent of Democrats favor the plan.

A West Health/Gallup survey in June put the level of Democratic support for the proposal at 97 percent, and announced that “nearly all Democrats…support empowering the federal government to negotiate lower prices of brand-name prescription drugs covered by Medicare.”

Since polls have margins of error, it’s reasonable to speculate about whether any grassroots Democrats oppose using the power of government to cut drug prices.

Unfortunately, a handful of congressional Democrats do oppose acting on the issue. Because Democrats control the House and Senate by narrow margins, this opposition threatens necessary reforms. If that threat becomes a reality, it could doom Democratic prospects for retaining control of Congress in 2022.

President Biden acknowledged as much in his inaugural address, saying, “This is certain, I promise you: We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.”

That judgment will be harsh if Democrats fail to deliver on an issue so broadly popular as lowering drug prices.

Yet, when the House Energy and Commerce Committee reviewed a proposal for government negotiations to lower drug prices, three Democrats—Kathleen Rice of New York, Scott Peters of California, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon—voted “no.” Their votes, in combination with Republican “no” votes, created a tie that blocked approval of the reform by the key committee. Politico observed that the trio “threw their party’s health care agenda into disarray.”

While things may get sorted out in the House, circumstances in the Senate took a turn for the worse on September 15, when Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema reportedly informed Biden that she’s opposed to the drug-price reform proposals that Democrats ran and won on in 2020.

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One thought on “Has Big Pharma Bought Enough Democrats to Derail Biden’s Plan?

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