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Biden Urges Congress to Pass His Plan to Lower Drug Prices

© Bloomberg. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at Germanna Community College in Culpeper, Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Biden touted his efforts to roll back prescription drug costs in a statement on inflation released today and is highlighting his administration’s work to lower health care costs for American families.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to pass his plan to lower prescription drugs prices, saying he’s seeking to reduce rising costs faced by families at a time when inflation is surging.

“Bringing down the cost of healthcare, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is an easy thing for us to do,” Biden said Thursday in Culpeper, Virginia. “It can be done legally with the stroke of a pen.”

Biden is seeking to address drug prices and other pocketbook issues ahead of this year’s midterm elections as rising consumer prices threaten Democrats’ control of Congress. 

The president’s comments came the same day Labor Department data showed U.S. consumer prices surged in January by more than expected, sending the annual inflation rate to a fresh four-decade high of 7.5%.

The president on Thursday also said he’d “work like the devil” to bring down surging gasoline prices. “Coming from a family when the cost of gas went up, you felt it in the household, you knew what it was like, it matters,” Biden said.

Biden’s stalled $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending plan seeks to lower prescription medication costs for people with Medicare and private insurance by allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of some drugs, cap out-of-pocket spending for some Medicare enrollees and limit costs for insulin.

“What we’re proposing is that we negotiate fair prices,” Biden said.

GOP senators oppose Biden’s Build Back Better plan and moderate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have raised objections. Biden has said the package would have to be broken up to make it through Congress but he still hopes some “chunks” of the bill will survive. 

Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders and Senator Amy Klobuchar are pushing leaders to quickly move a standalone bill to cut drug prices — a move that would require 60 votes to pass in the evenly divided chamber.

While Manchin has said he supports efforts to reduce drug prices, Democrats in both the House and Senate balked at major drug price controls last year.

Accompanying the president in Virginia was Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger, who is facing a tough re-election battle following Virginia’s redistricting of its congressional map.

Spanberger is competing in a substantially redrawn 7th District, whose boundaries shifted north, eliminating portions of suburban Richmond that heavily supported her. A group of GOP challengers is trying to unseat her.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Biden Urges Congress to Pass His Plan to Lower Drug Prices

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