Vulnerable Democrats worry about no deal on drug costs

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Fifteen House Democrats facing tough reelection bids next year wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying they’re worried about having to explain to their constituents why they failed to keep their promise to lower drug prices.

The promised plan to let Medicare negotiate down drug prices was dropped from President Biden’s framework for a $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate bill, but the omission is becoming a new sticking point.

“Soon, we must go back to our districts and explain what we’ve done in Washington to make our

constituents’ lives better,” wrote the Democrats on Sunday.

The letter illustrates the difficulty Democrats are having trying to iron out the remaining difference and pass both the $1.75 trillion package and a separate but related $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Mr. Biden left the drug pricing plan out of the framework after some moderate Democrats and the pharmaceutical industry objected to the measure.

The vulnerable Democrats, who are running in conservative-leaning or purple districts, want the drug-pricing law to fend off primary challenges to form the left and energize the liberal base for the general election.

The proposal would require drug companies to negotiate lower prices with Medicare and then offer those same rates to people with private insurance. Some Democrats worried the idea would cut into drug company profits that to toward developing new cures. Lawmakers are now trying to find a compromise that would drastically limit the proposal but give progressives and consumer advocates enough to call it a win

With the talks dragging on Monday, the vulnerable Democrats worried their reelection hopes would be damaged if no deal is reached or if a drastically watered-down bill is included in the package.

“We ran on upsetting the status quo and lowering out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs. If we fail, those on the other side of this issue will need to explain to Americans why they let Big Pharma win, why entrenched special interests take precedence over the American people,” the Democrats wrote.

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