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McConnell vowed to block prescription drug plan that would save $345 billion

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies.

By Josh Israel - October 14, 2019
Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised last month that he would block a drug pricing plan introduced in the House, calling it a “socialist” program that would do “damage to the healthcare system.”

Now, new analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has found that drug plan, put forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, would in fact save Medicare $345 billion over a decade.

The bulk of this savings would come from allowing the program to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies — something that is currently banned by law — to save money on the insulin and other expensive medications.

Pelosi unveiled the House Democratic plan, called the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, last month. She said the bill would be “transformative” in lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

McConnell, the self-described “Grim Reaper” who blocks all progress in the Senate, quickly vowed to block the legislation.

“Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system. And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that,” he said at the time, according to Politico.

The CBO scoring comes as Donald Trump and an array of Republican defenders in Congress have suggested that the House impeachment inquiry — as opposed to fealty to the pharmaceutical industry — is preventing them from taking action on prescription drug prices.

Trump specifically cited prescription drug pricing as an example of something congressional Democrats would not be able to tackle — along with gun safety and infrastructure — because they were “focused on hurting the Republican Party and the President.”

“So bad for our Country!” he tweeted last month.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has echoed Trump’s comments.

“If Democrats use impeachment proceedings to not act on policy that will benefit Americans like the #USMCA or lowering prescription drug prices, that would prove they’re more interested in politics and opposing the president than serving the American people,” he said in September.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) also argued Democrats were “losing focus” on the issue. And as recently as Monday morning, Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) tweeted that the impeachment inquiry meant there would be no action on prescription drug costs, “securing the border,” or “passing the USMCA,” Trump’s proposed replacement for NAFTA.

Despite those claims, Democrats are proceeding with this legislation apace. And with both the national debt and deficit at all-time highs under Trump, this kind of savings could help Congress inch ever closer to balancing the budget.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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