On Thursday, December 12th, the US House of Representatives passed the government drug-price negotiation bill. The said bill would allow the HHS secretary to negotiate prices for 250+ high-priced drugs with little competition.
House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, pushed the government drug-price negotiation bill but many officials already considered it rejected. The White House threatened to veto it while Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said that the upper chamber would not consider the legislation.
Two House Republicans and all Democrats were in favor of the bill which was passed on a 230–192 vote. If ever the Senate approves it, the negotiations would be kept within the limits of the drug price index in other developed countries. In addition, the negotiated prices would have to be offered by private companies as well.
As one would expect, certain people were opposed to the bill — drugmakers in particular. They said that the legislation does not reflect the true negotiation process. The reason being is that when drugmakers don’t agree to a certain price, the government would force an up to 95% of excise tax on the previous sales of the drug.
According to the spokesperson of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Holly Campbell, the bill would decrease the biopharmaceutical industry’s revenue by $1 trillion. Meanwhile, the excise tax would help the government save $456 billion within the next 10 years.
To address this issue, the House Democrats said that the bill’s savings would be used to expand Medicaid benefits. The money could also be used for funding community health centers, increasing financial assistance for low-income beneficiaries, resolving drug shortages, and funding other healthcare projects.
On the other hand, John Arnold, a billionaire who funded initiatives to lower drug prices, believed in the potential of the bill and its positive impact on patients. Arnold said that he was glad to see lawmakers who actually put the citizens’ needs first. It was also brave of them (the lawmakers) to resist the scare tactics of big pharmaceutical companies.
In contrast, Senate Finance Chairman, Chuck Grassley, was not so happy with the passing of the bill. He said that the House addressed high drug prices the wrong way; he knows Democrats and Republicans who would have a different approach to the problem. Nevertheless, the House already made a decision and now it’s the Senate’s turn to take actions, he said.