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Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Democrats have no workable plan to tackle the cost of prescription drugs, even with full control of Washington and after campaigning on the issue for years.

The picture: Voters still care about the cost of drugs, but Democrats don't have a feasible legislative strategy yet — or an agreed-upon policy to fit into a legislative strategy.

State of play: In his recent address to Congress, President Biden called for giving Medicare more leverage over the prices it pays for drugs. But nothing on drug prices was part of his proposed American Families Plan, which includes a slew of other Democratic priorities.

Congressional Democrats say they still intend to tackle the issue.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week told The.Ink that he also supports allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.
  • House Democrats held two hearings on a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate the price of some drugs and tie its prices to what other countries pay.

Yes, but: Given Democrats' razor-thin majorities and the industry's colossal lobbying power, they likely couldn't corral the votes to pass such sweeping reforms in the Senate.

  • And they don't yet have a fallback plan that the whole caucus could support, especially in the face of fierce opposition from industry.

The bottom line: “If you're just looking at public opinion polling, this is something Democrats should be raising their hands on, 100%," Harvard professor Robert Blendon said.

  • “What helps you in the midterm is to have three or four issues which are very popular that you did something about," he added. "It’s a very salient issue that would help most Democrats running in the midterm."

Go deeper

Aug 13, 2021 - Health

Medicare Advantage auditing rule stuck in limbo

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two years ago, the federal government created a plan to audit Medicare Advantage insurers more aggressively. But that plan is sitting in regulatory limbo.

Why it matters: The plan could claw back billions of taxpayer dollars. The delay is music to the ears of health insurers, which despise any form of enhanced audits.

Nine House Democrats say they won't vote on budget unless infrastructure bill passes

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during her weekly press briefing on August 6, 2021. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Nine House Democrats on Thursday sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warning that they would not vote on a budget resolution until the $1 trillion infrastructure package passes the House and is signed into law, Punchbowl News reported.

Why it matters: The pledge threatens Democrats' plan to pass both a multitrillion-dollar spending package and the bipartisan infrastructure package, which Pelosi has pledged to take up at the same time. With only a slim majority in the House, Pelosi can only lose three Democratic votes.

Distrust in political, media and business leaders sweeps the globe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Trust in government is collapsing, especially in democracies, according to a new global survey.

Why it matters: People also don't think media or business leaders are telling them the truth, and this suspicion of multiple societal institutions is pushing people into smaller, more insular circles of trust.