A campaign to keep drug pricing in package

It’s not entirely clear exactly what health care provisions will end up in Democrats’ package as negotiations intensify. But House Democrats in competitive districts are warning not to drop or water down one of their top priorities: allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.

On a call with reporters, Reps. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), both from competitive 2022 districts, noted that Democrats have made lowering drug prices one of the centerpieces of their campaigns.

“All of us would love to be able to go back to our districts and say, ‘Hey this is something we campaigned on that we delivered,'” Wild said on a call organized by the group Protect Our Care, speaking about “front-line” members from competitive districts.

Democratic strategists note that the issue is extremely popular with voters. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll this month found 83 percent of the public supports allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices.

The drug pricing provisions are one of the final issues being negotiated as lawmakers seek to close in on a deal on President Biden’s Build Back Better package.

Where things stand: Advocates have been alarmed in recent days that the provisions could be watered down significantly as leaders seek to win over Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who has been a major question mark on the issue.

A handful of moderate House Democrats also previously voted “no” on the sweeping House drug pricing legislation. One of those lawmakers, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), told reporters on Tuesday that he still had not seen language that he could support.

Peters has been pushing alternative legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices only in much narrower instances, for older drugs that no longer have patent protection. He said he is opposed to negotiation provisions broader than that over fears it would harm innovation from drug companies to develop new treatments.