Jul 23, 2019

House Democrats' drug bill coming in September

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Democrats will release a bill on drug pricing in September, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's top health care aide, Wendell Primus, said yesterday at a Brookings event.

Details: Primus said the bill will focus on the most expensive drugs — primarily, those that have been on the market a long time and still don't have any competition.

  • Once drugs have recouped their research and development costs, he said, "you should be able to push the price down ... well below international prices."
  • The bill would force HHS to negotiate prices directly, and it would include a tax or fee, based on sales, to try to bring drugmakers to the table.
  • Primus said the goal is for HHS' negotiated price to also apply to private insurance plans, so that drugmakers couldn't raise their prices on private plans to compensate for lower prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

What's next: The bill is close to finished, but leadership opted not to introduce it before the August recess, when pharma would have a month to attack it while lawmakers are back in their districts, Primus said.

What we're watching: This proposal could face criticism both from the left and right. Progressives have already said they're worried it won't go far enough, and Republicans have traditionally been loath to let the government set drug prices.

  • If there's a political way forward here, it may depend on a Pelosi-Trump partnership. What a time to be alive.

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.