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Ban On Negotiating Medicare Drug Prices Under Pressure

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Retiree Donna Weiner shows some of the daily prescription medications that she needs and pays over $6,000 a year through a Medicare prescription drug plan at her home, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Longwood, Fla. Weiner supports giving Medicare authority to negotiate drug prices. Negotiating Medicare drug prices is the linchpin of President Joe Biden's ambitious health care agenda. Not only would consumers see lower costs, but savings would be plowed into other priorities such as dental coverage for retirees and lower premiums for people with plans under the Obama-era health law. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP) — Negotiating Medicare drug prices is a linchpin of President Joe Biden’s ambitious health care agenda. But Congress barred the program from negotiating with drugmakers when it created the prescription benefit. That was nearly 20 years ago, and medicines costing $100,000 a year were rare.

Now Biden and congressional Democrats want to create an exception for the most expensive drugs without generic competition, and for insulins. Democrats hope to use billions in expected savings for other health care priorities.

Drugmakers oppose the proposal, saying government price setting would stifle innovation. And similar to other parts of Biden’s agenda, a few Democrats have qualms about Medicare negotiations.

 

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