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House passes bill lowering prescription drug prices

By
Danielle Haynes & Darryl Coote
House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, gave unanimous support to the legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, gave unanimous support to the legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The House on Thursday passed a bill to lower prices for prescription drugs, though lawmakers don't expect the sweeping legislation to pass the Senate.

The chamber passed the bill with a vote of 230-192 with unanimous Democratic support. Two Republicans also voted in favor -- Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

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Republicans in the Senate have indicated the legislation won't pass the upper chamber. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn't plan to bring up legislation that splits the Republican caucus.

"Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system," he said. "And, of course, we're not going to be calling up a bill like that."

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Even if the Senate passes the bill, the White House indicated President Donald Trump won't sign it.

Despite this, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is urging the Senate to make the legislation law.

"In one of the wealthiest countries on earth, no one should be skipping dosages or not taking needed medication because drugs are priced too high," President Lee Saunders said in a statement. "This bill will bring down healthcare costs and make historic investments in Medicare and public health to ensure that Americans receive the care they need."

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The legislation would allow Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prices for about 250 prescription drugs covered by Medicare that don't have competitors. It would also enforce an up to 95 percent tax on revenue of a drug if the company refuses to negotiate.

"What I hear most often is not impeachment, it's not what's on the front page of The Washington Post, it's 'What are you going to do about the cost of our prescription drugs?'" Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., said. "And this bill is an answer to my constituents."

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