Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Prescription pills shown with $20 bills.

Prescription pills are shown with $20 bills. (Photo: www.ccPixs.com/Flickr/cc)

'Unacceptable': 3 Corporate Dems Threaten to Block Drug Pricing Reform in Reconciliation Bill

"Any lawmaker that tries to stand in the way is on the wrong side of this issue and on the wrong side of their constituents," said one advocacy group.

Julia Conley

Three corporate Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee drew condemnation from progressives on Tuesday after announcing they plan to stand in the way of passing President Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation if it includes a key provision to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices—a broadly popular reform that could help millions of Americans save on the medications they need each year.
 
Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) reportedly claimed as the committee was marking up the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which would invest in human infrastructure, that including Medicare drug price negotiations in the package would keep the legislation from ultimately passing—despite polls showing the provision has widespread support.

"Without this key reform, we'll continue to pay unsustainable amounts for prescription drugs, and have less money for key investments like expanding Medicare benefits, fighting climate change, and more."
—Indivisible

 
"I do not support advancing policies that are not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill's final passage," said Rice, while Peters said he had proposed his own drug pricing negotiation scheme.
 
As Biden said last month in remarks about the Build Back Better plan, Americans currently pay two to three times more than people in other wealthy countries for prescription drugs. One in four struggle to afford prescriptions and 30% of Americans report having cut pills in half or skipping doses to save money.
 
"Right now, drug companies will set a price at whatever the market will bear," said the president. "But that often means a significant number of people can't afford it under any circumstance and they'll die without it. That's unacceptable."
 
"What we're proposing is that we'll negotiate a base—negotiate with the company based on a fair price, one that reflects the costs of the research and development and the need for... a profit, but that's still affordable for consumers," Biden added.
 
As research conducted in August by progressive think tank Data for Progress, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, and Protect Our Care shows, majorities of voters in all 435 congressional districts support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
 
Ninety percent of Rice's constituents support the provision, while only 18% believe the argument long made by pharmaceutical companies that allowing negotiation by Medicare will "harm innovation."
 
Similar poll results were found in Peters' and Schrader's districts, Protect Our Care reported on Tuesday.
 
"Any lawmaker that tries to stand in the way is on the wrong side of this issue and on the wrong side of their constituents," the group tweeted.
 
"Without this key reform, we'll continue to pay unsustainable amounts for prescription drugs, and have less money for key investments like expanding Medicare benefits, fighting climate change, and more," said Indivisible.
 
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, all three lawmakers have accepted campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry. Peters and Schrader have both accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the pharmaceutical industry this election cycle. Pharmaceutical companies are the top contributors to Peters' campaign in the 2021-22 cycle, donating more than $88,000 so far.
 
The three lawmakers' decision to side with corporations that aim to protect their profits at the expense of millions of Americans was called "unacceptable" by the healthcare advocacy coalition Lower Drug Prices Now.
 
"Rep. Kathleen Rice is putting Big Pharma profits before the 90% of her constituents in favor of reform by REFUSING to support H.R. 3 as part of the Build Back Better agenda," said the coalition.
 
Advocates called on constituents to demand that the three lawmakers support the popular provision, known as H.R. 3 or the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, in the reconciliation package.
 
"Tell them to stand with the people, not Big Pharma," said Center for Popular Democracy Action.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Do Better,' Say Advocates as Biden Seeks to Double Refugee Admissions

"When thousands of Afghans have been forced to flee their home to find safety, and Haitians are seeking safety on the southern border, the very least the United States can do is set a resettlement goal that meets the moment."

Brett Wilkins ·


Border Patrol Accused of 'Unfathomable Cruelty' for Cracking Whips on Haitians

"It doesn't matter if a Democrat or Republican is president, our immigration system is designed for cruelty towards and dehumanization of immigrants," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Brett Wilkins ·


As Gov. Tim Walz Proclaims 'Minnesota Climate Week,' Ilhan Omar Says 'Stop Line 3'

"The state of Minnesota simply cannot meet our carbon reduction targets if this pipeline goes through," said the Democratic congresswoman. "Our future is on the line."

Kenny Stancil ·


Supreme Court Announces Date for Case Directly Challenging Roe v. Wade

"The fate of Roe v. Wade and legal abortion is on the line."

Julia Conley ·


Avi Lewis Hoping Canadians' Climate Concerns Deliver Electoral 'Upset of Epic Proportions'

"We need to send Avi to Ottawa to shake up the entire political establishment, including his own party, and tip the scales in favor of people and the planet," said environmentalist David Suzuki.

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo