President Joe Biden delivers remarks on how his Build Back Better Act will lower the costs of prescription drugs in an address from the White House on Monday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday touted aspects of his Build Back Better social spending bill aimed at reducing the costs of prescription drugs as Democrats worked to pass the legislation by Christmas.
In a televised address from the White House, Biden said the $2 trillion bill would address "outrageously high" drug costs in part by capping insulin costs for diabetic seniors at $35 per month and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
"There aren't a lot of things that almost every American can agree on, but I think it's safe to say that all of us, whatever our background, our age, where we live, we can agree that prescription drugs are outrageously expensive in this country," Biden said.
"You know, even if you think this doesn't affect you, it does," he added. "Everyone has less money in their pockets because high drug costs make health insurance more expensive for every American."
Citing an anti-cancer drug that costs $14,000 in the United States, Biden said "that same exact drug by the same manufacturer costs $6,000 in France."
Another "egregious" example, he said, is insulin. Its cost has jumped at least 15% per year although it was invented 100 years ago and costs "just a couple bucks to make."
The Build Back Better bill has "three key steps" to lower the costs for Americans with diabetes, the president said -- 0capping cost-sharing of insulin, expanding insurance coverage and preventing drug makers from raising prices without justification.
Among its provisions, it allow the federal government to negotiate the prices of up to 10 common Medicare drugs beginning in 2025.
The massive bill passed the House on Nov. 19. It is to be paid for by instituting a new corporate minimum tax and raising taxes on high-income Americans.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to colleagues Monday he is aiming to pass the bill by Christmas, but its fate in the upper chamber remained unclear as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona had yet to voice support for it.
All 50 Democratic votes are needed to pass the measure through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process.