Lowering pharmaceutical drug prices is a rare bipartisan goal in Washington, and a legislative proposal to do just that cleared the Ways and Means House committee on Tuesday. The proposed law would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies over the price of 250 of the United States’ most costly drugs, and in turn pass on those savings to private health plans. Failure on the companies’ part to negotiate would result in them getting fined at least 65 percent of their drug’s gross sales.
The bill would save Medicare a hefty $345 billion over 10 years, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan entity.
Last week, the legislation—including some last-minute changes that would institute a price cap on drugs with no other competitors—passed a vote out of the Energy and Commerce committee that was divided down party lines. Some Republicans have opposed the bill, saying that it will tamp down on the industry’s innovation if profit margins are limited. They have also expressed doubt that the legislation will ever make it across the finish line.
“I don’t believe that I was elected to write bills that would never go anywhere,” said Republican Michael Burgess, who