The White House on Tuesday rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to lower prescription drug prices, with an unnamed senior White House official telling the Associated Press that the plan is “unworkable.”
The White House has been in talks with Pelosi’s office on drug prices, but it signaled last week that President Trump would instead back a more modest bipartisan Senate drug-pricing proposal from Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The Senate legislation would require drugmakers to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices by more than the rate of inflation, and it would limit out-of-pocket expenses for seniors. But it does not call for the government to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, as Pelosi’s bill does. Trump has in the past backed the idea of allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, an idea vehemently opposed by other Republicans, who reject Pelosi’s plan as “socialist.”
“The White House official pointed to the lack of Republican support for the Pelosi bill and objected that it’s structured to essentially give Medicare the power to dictate prices,” AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reported.
Pelosi’s plan, which would also lower drug prices for people with private insurance, would save Medicare $345 billion over seven years, according to a preliminary analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The Grassley-Wyden plan would save $85 billion, CBO has said.
A Pelosi spokesperson responded to the White House decision with a sharp warning to Trump: “Working people won’t like it if he sells them out on one of the most important kitchen table issues in America right now.”
Why it matters: “The falling out imperils chances for legislation this year, already seen as a long shot,” Alonso-Zaldivar says.