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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

Republicans tout funding from COVID relief bill they unanimously opposed

Rep. Madison Cawthorne. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A number of Republican lawmakers are celebrating and promoting provisions of President Biden's American Rescue Plan in their home constituencies, despite unanimously voting against the sweeping COVID rescue bill, AP writes.

Why it matters: Polling suggests the $1.9 trillion plan, the defining legislative victory of Biden's presidency thus far, is widely popular among the American public. Democrats have said they'll make their Republican colleagues' votes a sticking point during the 2022 midterm elections.

May 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's plan to work with — or bail on — the GOP

President Biden, after remarks on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden plans to test Republicans’ appetite to pay for any part of his proposed $4.1 trillion in infrastructure and social spending before deciding whether to pursue one big tax-and-spend package or two smaller ones, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: Biden is wary of boxing himself in, since it would dictate whether he seeks a bipartisan or all-Democratic approach. He told reporters on Wednesday, "I'm willing to compromise. But I'm not willing to not pay for what we're talking about. I'm not willing to deficit-spend."

6 mins ago - Health

Exclusive: New app will help employers verify workers' vaccine status

Photo: Proxy

A tech company is announcing a new health app Thursday that it says will help employers bring their employees back to the office safely by verifying their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Why it matters: The app, or others like it, could be a sign of how employers can enforce vaccination requirements without relying on the honor system or hand-checking CDC vaccine cards.