September 11,2019

ICYMI: Trump Welcomes Pelosi’s Draft Rx Bill As He Presses GOP To Back Grassley’s Finance Bill

Grassley: “I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position, because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”
“The White House on Tuesday welcomed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ideas on drug pricing, hiking President Donald Trump’s pressure on Senate Republicans and the drug industry to back a less aggressive, but strongly pharma-opposed, drug-pricing bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee.”
“‘The President has been focused on this topic since he took office, and he welcomes the Speaker’s ideas to help build bipartisan, bicameral consensus for the American people,’ White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told Inside Drug Pricing.”
“A draft of the California Democrat’s long-awaited bill was leaked to Washington lobbyists late Monday (Sept. 9). The bill would give the federal government power to directly negotiate prescription drug prices using foreign prices as a reference. Deere also confirmed the Trump administration has been in talks with Pelosi for months on her drug pricing proposals…”
“…Grassley warned Republicans and the drug industry that if they don’t get behind his bill, which would require drug makers to pay Medicare back for price hikes that outpace inflation, they risk more aggressive plans from House Democrats and the White House.”
“…Deere’s statement sends a signal to Republicans and the drug industry that the president may be serious about his threats to put U.S. drug prices in line with those of foreign countries if drug-pricing bills stall on Capitol Hill.”
“‘The White House was supportive of the package that passed the Senate Finance Committee, and we continue to engage with members of the Senate as well as other members and outside advocates to build support and ensure the President’s priorities are advanced,’ Deere told IDP in a statement.”
“It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.”
“‘I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,’ he said of his bill in an interview Monday, ‘because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.’”
“The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.”
“…In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.”
“Concern over high drug prices is driving proposals this fall from both Republicans and Democrats on an issue likely to be near the top of the 2020 election agenda.”
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) is preparing to reveal a bill likely to allow Medicare to negotiate hundreds of drug prices. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), meanwhile, is pushing a bipartisan drug-pricing bill that seeks to lower drug costs in Medicare and Medicaid.”
“President Trump has also promised more initiatives on drug prices, including an executive order linking the amount the U.S. pays for prescriptions to the prices in other nations. The White House has also been in talks with Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Grassley over their plans.”
“Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry trade group, spent a record $27.9 million on lobbying last year, according to, a website that tracks political spending.”
“Sen. Grassley’s proposal would require drugmakers to reimburse Medicare if drug prices increase by more than the inflation rate, and it would cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs. Several White House officials have expressed support for the measures, crafted over six months and introduced by Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.).”

“I hope people see my proposal as more moderate than Pelosi’s,” [Grassley] said.