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Congress & Drug Prices — Bipartisan Agreement Collapses

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Three bills passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee aimed at helping reduce the price of drugs. They will remove the barriers pharmaceutical companies have to keep generic drugs from entering the market. The bills also address tactics used by pharmaceutical firms to keep competition at bay and prices high.


They passed on a bipartisan effort with both parties in support. Then the Democrats added some rollbacks to Trump administration’s decisions on ObamaCare. It forced the Republicans to vote no on the bills when they came before the full House.


It passed the package 234 to 183.


Added to the final bill are bans on short-term insurance plans that don’t meet ObamaCare requirements and some marketing and outreach funding designed to help people navigate insurance needs in the ObamaCare exchanges.


Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon said the Democrats have put politics in front of what was — in effect — a bipartisan effort to help the people. “I have to express my regret that the bipartisan work we did … gets paired up with a purely partisan bill they know we had problems with,” Walden said. “That’s disappointing at best and discouraging and unfortunate, because there’s an opportunity to legislate here.”


Walden and other Republicans pushed Democrats hard and asked them to — for the sake of getting real reform done — remove the ObamaCare parts from the legislation and let these bills stand alone.


House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called the decision “partisan poison pills. They took a situation where we found common ground on drug pricing and transparency … but before they came to the floor, they put poison pills in it dealing with the Affordable Care Act.”


Walden said putting ObamaCare onto the bill means it is less likely the Republican-controlled Senate will even look at it.


The president has been up front about the issue. He supports the bipartisan effort and the decisions to get drug pricing under control but says if this somehow manages to reach his desk intact, he’ll veto.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Democrats forced the tough decision upon Republicans because they have continued to support attempts to undermine ObamaCare.


“I think, frankly, we have packaged these bills because we think they are all part and parcel of what we pledged to the American people; that is, bringing down prices and making healthcare available at a level that they need to protect themselves and their families,” Hoyer said. “I regret that the administration continues to try to undermine the ACA.”


Source link: The Hill


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