The Democratic proposal would cap drug prices and allow the government to negotiate Medicare drug prices.
The White House slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday for protecting large pharmaceutical companies in a statement released by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre:
"The Republican Senate leader is holding hostage a bipartisan package to strengthen American competitiveness versus China, that would yield hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in places like Southern Ohio, Idaho, and other states around the country. It would lower the cost of countless products, and end our reliance on imports. Why? To protect the ability of big pharmaceutical companies to price gouge. Senate Republicans are literally choosing to help China out compete the U.S. in order to protect big drug companies. This takes loyalty to special interests over working Americans to a new and shocking height. We are not going to back down in the face of this outrageous threat."
The White House's statement came after McConnell announced his intention to hold up passage of the United States Innovation and Competition Act currently under consideration by Congress.
McConnell's statement came following reports on Wednesday that Democratic senators have finalized the details of efforts to lower prescription drug prices as part of a larger economic package.
"Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill," McConnell wrote on Thursday.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently working on a compromise bill, which President Joe Biden has indicated he wishes to sign into law "as soon as possible."
The proposal, which is an effort to pass some provisions of the Build Back Better legislation that previously failed to make it through the Senate, would allow the government to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare recipients.
If the proposal becomes law, drug prices would begin being negotiated in 2023, and drug costs for seniors under Medicare would be capped at $2,000 per year. The legislation would also penalize companies that raise the cost of their drugs faster than the inflation rate.
Democrats also added a provision that would prevent future administrations from choosing not to aggressively negotiate drug prices. The provision comes after the Trump administration attempted to sabotage enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans even while the health care law remained active.
McConnell's threat to the Innovation and Competition Act comes despite bipartisan support for the legislation, which is designed to enable the United States to counter years of global investments by China.
The legislation would invest billions of federal dollars into semiconductor manufacturing as well as scientific research and innovation as well as improved supply chains. The Senate passed the original version of the act last year. The House of Representatives passed its own version of the act in February.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.