Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is now ready to make changes to her drug pricing plan because of complaints from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).
Pelosi made it known to lawmakers, including the heads of the Progressive Caucus, during a private meeting Wednesday night that she was aware of their complaints.
Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who are the chairs of the CPC, had been intensely criticizing the outline of Pelosi’s plan to lower drug prices. They did not agree with requiring Medicare to negotiate prices on a minimum of only 25 drugs per year. The progressives said that number of drugs was far too small and would not do enough to bring prices down.
Pelosi told Pocan and Jayapal Wednesday night that she had heard that complaint and that the plan would increase the number of drugs to be negotiated to be somewhere around 250 drugs, according to Pocan.
Pocan told reporters when asked by Pelosi was making the change, “She actually said it’s from the conversations we’ve had, so I felt good about that.”
The meeting on Wednesday night where this took place occurs every week and includes the heads of the CPC along with other Democratic caucuses like the moderate Blue Dogs. Pocan and Jayapal said they have challenged Pelosi on the drug pricing plan several times in previous meetings.
Progressives have been frustrated with what they called a lack of transparency and opportunity for input into the plan. One of the Democrats’ top priorities is to lower drug prices.
Pocan said Wednesday’s meeting was a step in the right direction.
“[It’s] moving in the right direction, we’ve just got to keep moving in that direction, but they’re hearing us and that’s what’s important,” Pocan said.
Pelosi told the lawmakers it is “not likely” the plan will be introduced before the Fourth of July recess, Pocan added.
Defenders of Pelosi’s previous targeted approach point out that a small number of high-cost drugs make up a large share of drug spending. One analysis found the top 25 drugs in terms of spending make up about 30 percent of all Medicare drug spending.
Pelosi’s office has been in talks with the White House on drug pricing as well. President Trump also called for Medicare to negotiate drug prices during his 2016 campaign before backing off the idea.
Credit: The Hill