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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Democrats are trying to revive their efforts to lower prescription drug prices through Medicare negotiation.

State of play: President Biden's framework for Democrats' reconciliation bill notably excluded any major prescription drug price reforms.

  • Democrats have since been trying to find a compromise that would still allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but within parameters that moderates could support.

What's locked in: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told reporters Monday members are "made some real headway over the weekend."

  • He said Democrats are still considering allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs in Parts B and D. A bill by moderate House members would have applied negotiations only to Part B.  
  • Every insulin product covered by Part D would be available at a low cost, and those prices would be negotiated by the government. 
  • A cap that prevents prices from rising greater than inflation would apply to both Medicare and the commercial market. 
  • There'd be a cap on what Part D enrollees pay out-of-pocket for drugs, likely $2,000. There'd also be a monthly out-of-pocket cap.

But, but, but: The party is still hashing out which drugs would be eligible for negotiation, Wyden said.

  • One emerging idea is to only allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs that are no longer protected from competition by the exclusivity period given to them when they first come to market.
  • That exclusivity period lasts for five years for small-molecule drugs and 12 years for biologics.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 30, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Putting gasoline prices in perspective

Expand chart
Reproduced from Energy Institute at Haas; Chart: Axios Visuals

This may be cold comfort to anyone feeling the pinch of higher gasoline prices, but a new analysis explains why looking only at per-gallon costs tells an incomplete story.

How it works: University of California economist Severin Borenstein's commentary offers other metrics to look at prices nationwide and in his state, the nation's costliest.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.