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On the Hill: Biden Addresses Congress, Calls for Action on Drug Prices

President Biden last Wednesday addressed a joint session of Congress to discuss the progress made in his first 100 days in office and to outline his vision moving forward. He spent considerable time making the case for his ideas to rebuild and revamp the nation’s infrastructure, including his “human” infrastructure proposal, the American Families Plan.

Although Biden’s American Families Plan includes only one health care proposal — extending and expanding access to advanced premium tax credits for health insurance plans purchased through the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace — the president called on Congress to pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers.

The president’s initial omission of provisions to address the price of prescription drugs and Medicare expansion policies in his human infrastructure proposal created an uproar among Democrats, with some lawmakers urging the president at the last minute to include more health care provisions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) previously indicated that any infrastructure bill coming out of the House would address prescription drug prices, with the saving generated by the drug pricing provisions used to pay for portions of the infrastructure package. However, even with the president’s verbal endorsement of drug pricing legislation, it remains unclear if some of the leading policy proposals to lower costs, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, have the support to pass a 50-50 Senate and narrow House majority.

Hearings of Note

On Tuesday, May 4, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and other legislative proposals to address prescription drug pricing. H.R. 3 would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, among other provisions to lower drug costs.

Also on Tuesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing to examine and discuss reforms to the organ transplantation system.

The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a May 5 hearing on lowering drug costs and expanding affordable health care.

On Thursday, May 6, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing titled “Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Maternal Health Crisis.”



About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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