House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill aiming to overhaul prescription drug prices hit a roadblock crafted by her fellow Democrats earlier this week, but together they brokered a new deal in time for a potential vote today.
Co-leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., met with Pelosi earlier this week to voice their concerns that the legislation did not go far enough and the Caucus was ready to oppose a vote that could happen as early as today.
This all happened after New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another big voice in the Caucus, blasted the plan Tuesday and threatened to vote against it without more progressive changes.
“As the bill stands, she plans on voting no,” Anika Legrand-Wittich, Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson, said.
The original plan was to allow U.S. health officials to negotiate the prices of 35 prescription drugs that Medicare pays for, but that number has been bumped up to 50 now. Pelosi has also reimplemented a second part of the bill that bars drug price spikes for employer-sponsored health plans.
Jayapal celebrated the win for the Caucus with a tweet Tuesday night, “This is a huge victory for the American people!” she tweeted.
This is a huge victory for the American people! When we stick together, fight hard and with principle, we help improve lives for millions of people. @USProgressives are thrilled with these additions to #HR3. #ForThePeople 💪🏾💪🏾 https://t.co/z1QBCVfaLe
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) December 11, 2019
The bill should have no problem passing the Democrat-controlled House if a vote happens today, but it could face some headwinds in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Republicans have consistently been against the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying he would likely ignore the legislation. Revising health care prices has been a main goal of President Donald Trump, but he doesn’t like Pelosi’s approach and has said he would veto her bill if it made it to his desk.
Trump is instead backing bipartisan legislation from the Senate that would require pharmaceutical companies to fork over rebates if they attempt to hike prices above inflation. Republicans are also worried that Pelosi’s bill would make it harder for companies to develop new drugs and bring them to the marketplace.
A statement from the White House last week said Pelosi’s bill “will harm American patients in ways that far outweigh any benefits.”