“Much progress has been made on a compromise prescription drug deal that would involve a certain amount of negotiation” between Medicare and the drug companies, said a source close to the talks. There is “optimism that something can be added before the House votes” on Biden’s package earlier this week.
Pallone and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) Discussed the issue on Thursday late. Those talks continued throughout the weekend, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the conversation. Sinema spoke to President Nancy Pelosi over the weekend on the issue and the White House is also involved.
The latest draft effort includes a Medicare Part D overhaul, drug negotiation and discounts, said a source with direct knowledge of the effort. It’s not as broad as the House’s “HR 3” drug bill, but it’s based on the same parameters.
No deal was final on Sunday morning, but there was some hope in the party to land one in the next 24 to 48 hours.. On CNN Sunday, Sanders said he had spent all day Saturday working on the issue and “as soon as I leave the studio I’ll be going home to call to make sure we have it.”
Biden previously struck a more limited deal with Sinema and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) Which House Democrats resisted, hoping to make the policy broader and apply to more drugs. House Democrats insist Pallone never gave up on negotiations, even after Sinema and Peters struck a deal with Biden that fell short of his goals.
Still, not inserting anything into what is likely to be the only opportunity to become law is unappealing to most Democrats. Plus, getting a deal would bring in new revenue for the legislation, perhaps helping to pay for more programs or keep them running longer.
Pallone was optimistic Thursday: “I think we are very close to a deal. We are going to have a bill that negotiated the prices and that will make a difference so that people can afford their drugs. And Peters said Pallone had “come a long way on politics,” but said their efforts had yet to garner 50 votes in the Senate.
But if Democrats are able to reinsert a drug plan, lawmakers and their aides say it will come close to the much narrower, industry-friendly version proposed by House and Senate centrists. and endorsed by the White House as the aggressive plan that has already passed the House twice. Although the goal of the pharmaceutical industry is to prevent any price negotiations with the government, limit the negotiation to a narrow subset of drugs and rely more on measures such as payment caps that do not not affect business results would be a victory in itself.
Several progressives and pioneers have said they would rather leave the price of drugs out of the box rather than pass what they see as a low version that will undermine motivation for future action. Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) Said, “I understand if it comes back it will be the Peters version or even worse. I’m quite upset about it. It’s just awful.
Along with relief in state and local taxes, prescription drug reform remains the most likely addition to Biden’s original framework, which spends hundreds of billions on climate action, universal pre-K, government credits. child tax and home care. Sanders wants his Medicare expansion to cover more than just hearing, as is the current plan, while other Democrats are trying to add new tax policies, paid vacations and immigration reform to the package.