WASHINGTON — Democrats are committed to passing legislation this year to curb prescription drug prices, but they’re still disagreeing on how to cut costs for patients and taxpayers while preserving profits that lure investors to back potentially promising treatments.
It boils down to finding a balance: How big a stick should Medicare have to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies?
With hundreds of billions of dollars in potential savings, the stakes are enormous. Medicare spends upward of $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, a category that keeps growing as costly new drugs enter the market. An Alzheimer’s medication approved just last week comes with a price of $56,000 a year, for example, and co-payments could skyrocket for patients who use it.
A successful bill would advance a a key plank of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda even as Democrats struggle to make progress on other fronts. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices consistently wins strong public support in opinion polls.
In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore, is also working to craft legislation….