Cline opposes bill to cut prescription drug prices

Taking a break from repeating dubious Republican talking points and finally voting “no” in the House Judiciary Committee on both articles of impeachment against President Trump , Congressman Cline joined almost all Republicans to vote once again against the interests of his constituents.

Sharpening their 2020 election message, House Democrats on Thursday pushed through legislation that would empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and offer new benefits for seniors. The vote comes as the House Judiciary Committee considers articles of impeachment against the president.

The vote along party lines was 230 to 192. Two Republicans supported the bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

According to the the Department of Health and Human Services, the bill would save consumers $158 billion over 10 years.

The bill is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which donates huge amounts to the Congressional campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans– although Republicans get more.

Big Pharma claims that requiring companies to negotiate prices (something that President Trump was for before he was against it) will stifle innovation of new drugs.

But as a New York Times editorial notes:

[T]hese fatal predictions ignore some obvious facts. First, innovation is already being thwarted under the current system, which skews heavily toward some types of drug development and away from others. For example, there are huge incentives to bring certain new cancer drugs to market, even when those drugs have little impact on survival rates, but comparatively few incentives to develop antibiotics or treatments for diseases that predominantly affect low-income communities — both of which are urgently needed.

Second, drug companies that are concerned about their research budgets dwindling have options. They might consider trimming the generally outsize amount of money they spend on advertising. Or they could look to the generous tax breaks they have secured in recent years — as Axios and others have reported, much of the pharmaceutical industry’s 2017 windfall went to stock dividends and share buybacks, not research and development. Even the Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, has called the drug industry’s projections of innovation loss “mathematically unbelievable.

I hope Congressman Cline will have a chance to explain his vote to the thousands of low-income seniors and others in the Sixth District who struggle with prescription drug costs and would benefit from an expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision services.

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