Today on the Hill: Democrats Look to Clinch Drug Pricing Reform Package

House lawmakers have reconvened and are resuming consideration of the House Democrats’ signature drug pricing bill. The measure would: (1) permit negotiations on insulins and up to 250 other drugs annually, with prices backstopped at 120 percent of the average of prices in a basket of select wealthy countries and severe penalties for nonparticipation in negotiations; (2) place caps on prescription drugs’ annual price growth; and (3) restructure the Medicare Part D benefit. Lawmakers are currently considering 12 amendments to the underlying package, including a substitute amendment offered by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) that Republicans argue reflects areas of bipartisan agreement on drug pricing reform.

The sweeping legislation is expected to pass the lower chamber later this morning after leadership struck an agreement with Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Pramilia Jayapal (D-WA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) that would increase the minimum number of drugs to be negotiated annually to 50. Despite the likelihood of passage in the House, the bill is not expected to be considered in the GOP-controlled Senate, as the Trump administration signaled its disapproval of the bill earlier this week by issuing a veto threat. However, the White House did throw support behind both the Senate Finance Committee's Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act as well as the House GOP’s Lower Costs, More Cures Act in its Statement of Administration Policy.

In the upper chamber, the Senate is set to vote on Dr. Stephen Hahn's nomination to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Hahn's nomination is expected to pass with strong bipartisan support, as just 19 Senators voted against a procedural motion to advance the soon-to-be Commissioner. Senators will also take up Aurelia Skipwith's nomination to be Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.