Pelosi aims for feds to negotiate drug prices, even for private insurers

As House Democrats hash out a proposal empowering the federal governments top health official to negotiate lower drug prices, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking it a step further and pushing a plan that could benefit even those Americans with private health insurance. A draft plan spearheaded but not yet released by Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders would ensure that prices negotiated on the most expensive drugs would apply not only to the government but to all payers, including employers and insurers, a Democratic aide said. But first, Democrats must agree on how best to muscle drug companies to the negotiating table, as well as how to prevent Americans from paying more or even losing access to the other drugs they take. Pelosi has faced pressure from progressive House Democrats, who have pushed for a more aggressive approach, including opening up all drugs to negotiations. However bold a plan Democrats produce, any proposal to invite the federal government into price negotiations looks doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP leaders have said they will not let it advance. That means the fight over whether the government should cut deals with drugmakers is likely to play out on the members’ 2020 election campaign trails, rather than in the halls of Congress. Democrats could again try to tar Republicans as indifferent to the struggles of Americans who cannot afford healthcare while promoting their own attempts to fulfill 2018 campaign promises to address skyrocketing drug prices.

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