September 22, 2021
Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Proposal Blocked in Committee
Democratic Reps. Scott Peters (CA), Kathleen Rice (NY) and Kurt Schrader (OR) cast the deciding votes against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices Wednesday. The 29-29 tie vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee came after a 3-day markup. Their votes prevent the provision from advancing, eliminating a key mechanism for paying for vision, dental and hearing care under Medicare.
Separately, a fourth House Democrat, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), who is not on the Committee, also voted against a related Medicare drug price negotiation bill in the Ways and Means Committee this week.
With progress stalled at the Energy and Commerce Committee, attention is turning to the House Ways and Means Committee, which shares jurisdiction over health policy and which did back the plan on Wednesday to include the critical Medicare legislation. The language could also be inserted by the Rules Committee before floor debate on the social spending package.
The Alliance’s recent poll of voters age 65 and above found that an 87% majority of voters over age 65 favor allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, including 48% who are strongly in favor. Among Democratic seniors, 89% are in favor, as are 87% of Republican seniors and 81% of independent seniors.
“Less than two years ago, all four of these Representatives voted for an even stronger bill to lower drug prices — when it was clear that the Senate and President Trump would never allow it to become law,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The reality is that Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, with seniors bearing the highest burden. We need members of Congress who say they favor lower drug prices to vote with retirees when it matters, not take votes that allow the drug corporations to continue price gouging.”
The Alliance is calling on its members in the districts of Reps. Murphy, Peters, Rice and Schrader to let their representatives know how upset seniors are that they caved to pressure from the pharmaceutical industry. Each member’s office can be reached by calling 202-224-3121.