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“We Cannot Turn Back Now:” Frontline Democrats Call for Passing Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Act

U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN-02) and 14 swing-district Democratic members of the House released a letter calling for the final Build Back Better Act to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Members recognize that delivering lower drug prices means keeping their promises to voters.  

They wrote, “With the Build Back Better agenda, we have a perhaps once in a generation opportunity to change the status quo and make good on our promise that no one should have to choose between affording their prescription drugs or food or housing. The public is on our side. Big Pharma is not.” Click here to read the full letter. 

From Washington Post’s Health 202: “House Democrats from some of the most vulnerable seats are urging leadership to include drug pricing measures in the bill. ‘Soon, we must go back to our districts and explain what we’ve done in Washington to make our constituents’ lives better,’ the 15 frontline Democrats wrote in a letter Sunday. ‘We ran on upsetting the status quo and lowering out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs.’” [Washington Post, 11/1/21

From Politico Huddle: “Fifteen frontline Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Sunday night urging the inclusion of prescription drug pricing provisions in the final social spending package, reminding their leadership of the promises they made to voters. ’As majority-makers in competitive districts, we promised our constituents that we would come to Washington to fight on their behalf for lower drug prices. We cannot turn back now on our promise to the American people,’ the lawmakers wrote.” [Politico, 11/1/21]

“I Am Not Giving Up”: Senator Klobuchar and Patient Advocates Demand Medicare Negotiation Now

Watch the Event Here.

Washington, DC — Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined health care advocates and Protect Our Care for a virtual roundtable on lowering drug costs and keeping meaningful Medicare negotiation in the final Build Back Better Act. Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring relief to patients struggling to afford their medications. During today’s event, storytellers from across the country shared what’s at stake for them if lawmakers fail to act. 

The roundtable comes after Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act that fails to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices. While Big Pharma continues to lobby against action to lower drug prices for patients, Democratic leadership have pledged to include Medicare negotiation in the final bill. 

“We’re in this fight because too many Americans are struggling to access their medications,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “It is more expensive to get prescription drugs in our country than in other countries, even though it’s our taxpayers that have funded so much of the research in the past five years. That’s why I have been spearheading these efforts to let Medicare negotiate since I’ve been in the Senate. It’s common sense policy.”

“The fight is not over to stand up to Big Pharma and put patients over profits,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “It is unconscionable that millions of families are forced to choose between the medications they need to survive and paying for other necessities like food or rent. We must meet this moment and deliver on the needs of families nationwide by giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices.” 

“Legislation like Medicare negotiation is going to save lives,” said Mindy Salango, Type 1 Diabetic and patient storyteller from West Virginia. “That is what is at stake not only in West Virginia, but across the country. We need our leaders to step up and speak for us and help us because that’s what we voted for. That’s what we put them in office for. And this bill is completely across party lines. Diabetes didn’t ask me if I was a liberal or conservative when it decided to enter my life. People want it, we need it.”

“I suffer from systemic lupus. In order to keep it under control, you need medications. There was one medication that was $3,000 a month, I cannot afford it. And when you’re on a fixed income, it blows your budget,” said Beatriz Morrison, a patient storyteller from Arizona. “There’s a lot of people out there in my neighborhood, in our country, that have to forego medications — it just isn’t right. I have a senator that doesn’t want to help us. [Senator Sinema] said she was going to help us, and she doesn’t seem to want to. A lot of people are out there dying.”

“I’ve been a nurse for 37 years, 12 of those years I’ve worked with the high-risk epilepsy population, who often need three to four medications to remain with controlled seizures. I had the heartwrenching experience of losing a patient who was 26 years old. Like many patients, Jay was unable to afford medication to treat his seizures, and it left him with nowhere to turn.” said Rachelle Compton, a nurse from California. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me that this is allowed in America. People’s lives are actually lost due to the pharmaceutical situation that we have here. It’s maddening and it’s really sad.” 

“I’m a community pharmacist in Teaneck, New Jersey, and every single day in my practice, customers come to me complaining about the cost of prescription drug prices,” said Michael Fedida, community pharmacist and pharmacy owner of J&J Pharmacy in New Jersey. “The 1500 lobbyists that are in Washington seem to have much more power than the entire Senate and Congress. It’s just so frustrating that it’s become a game of just money. People don’t seem to care about people’s lives and the quality of life that people are entitled to in this country.” 

“Pre-COVID, I didn’t have to think about my medical bills. I didn’t have to think about how I was going to pay for prescriptions. Through COVID, we ended up closing most of our businesses. I suffer from multiple autoimmune disorders and have several other illnesses, and now I have to think about ‘Oh, am I going to be able to pay for this $2,000 medication this week? Am I going to be able to pay for this $300 item,’” said Himali Patel, small business owner and patient storyteller from Georgia. “It’s up to the powers that be to go ahead and fight for our people to do better and do right by us.”

Senator Klobuchar to Head Roundtable With Storytellers and Advocates on Importance of Medicare Negotiation and Lowering Drug Costs

Washington, DC — On Saturday, October 30 at 12:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM CT Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will join health care advocates and Protect Our Care in a roundtable on the importance of lowering drug costs and immediately passing meaningful Medicare negotiation.

Virtual Roundtable:

WHO:
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 

Leslie Dach, Chair, Protect Our Care

Mindy Salango, Type 1 diabetic and patient storyteller (West Virginia)

Beatriz Morrison, a patient storyteller who struggles to afford her medication (Arizona)

Rachelle Compton, nurse whose patient died after not being able to afford his medications (California)

Michael Fedida, community pharmacist and pharmacy owner of J&J Pharmacy (New Jersey)

Himali Patel, small business owner and patient storyteller from (Georgia)

Jennifer Dotson, patient storyteller who also falls in the Medicaid coverage gap (Florida)

WHAT: Roundtable With Storytellers and Advocates on Medicare Negotiation and Lowering Drug Costs in the Build Back Better Act

WHERE: Watch the Event Here

WHEN: Saturday, October 30 at 12:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM CT

Rep. Peter Welch Says The Fight for Medicare Negotiations Continues 

Rep. Welch and Democratic Leaders Are Working Tirelessly to Ensure Meaningful Medicare Negotiation Remains in the Build Back Better Act

Listen to the Call Here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) joined Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss ongoing efforts to include strong provisions on Medicare negotiation in the final Build Back Better package. Medicare negotiation enjoys nearly universal support among voters and would dramatically bring down health care costs for the American people. 

The call comes after lawmakers announced a framework yesterday for the Build Back Better Act that fails to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices. However, Democratic leadership has pledged to include Medicare negotiation in the final bill. Today’s call made clear that lawmakers must stand up to Big Pharma and lower prescription drug prices once and for all. 

“Reports of drug price negotiation’s exclusion from Build Back Better are premature. My colleagues and I continue to fight because we know that failing to include these provisions would be political malpractice,” said U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL). “We know that our constituents are struggling to access the life-saving and life-extending drugs that they need because of pharma’s unchecked price gouging, and we know that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect them. Negotiations are ongoing and we’ll continue to work to get this done.”

“Now is not the time to back down from lowering drug prices. Failure to include negotiation in Build Back Better means maintaining the broken system that lets drug companies dictate outrageous prices while millions of Americans struggle to afford their medications,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Medicare negotiation is a win-win–it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do because it enjoys nearly universal support from voters. Democrats ran and won on health care in 2020, and now they must deliver on their promises and lower drug prices now.” 

ROUNDUP: Members of Congress Pledge to Include Medicare Negotiation in Final BBB Package

Yesterday, Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act. While the agreement includes historic measures to dramatically lower health costs and expand care, it is missing a critical provision: giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for all Americans. Medicare negotiation is the most popular and transformative health care measure in the entire bill. As Big Pharma and their allies in Congress continue to fight against reform, Democrats from across the political spectrum agree that Medicare negotiation must remain in the final package. 

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “[Pallone] does not think the Build Back Better Act can pass the House without meaningful reforms to lower the cost of prescription drugs.” [@rachel_roubein, 10/28/21]

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “I remain committed to finalizing an agreement that includes price negotiation, a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket drug spending, and a penalty for Big Pharma companies that unfairly raise prices.” [Time, 10/28/21]

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “I still feel confident that we’re going to get a drug pricing initiative, but I just want you all to know that pharma is doing whatever they can to try to prevent any drug pricing provision being in this bill. And if it doesn’t get in the bill, it’s totally because of them and their lackeys here in the House and the Senate.” [Roll Call, 10/28/21]

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “We’re staying at it. This is too important.” [Time, 10/28/21]


Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “The deal isn’t done until the Senate acts.” [The Washington Post, 10/28/21]


Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “The way I would put it — if you want you know, my bottom line — it is non-negotiable that negotiation become a part of Medicare now.” [Roll Call, 10/28/21]

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “I have some serious concerns about what is not in the bill. For years, we have been talking about lowering the cost of prescription drugs and that is not in the bill. At all.” [The Wall Street Journal, 10/29/21]

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “Bottom line is that any reconciliation bill must include serious negotiations on the part of Medicare with the pharmaceutical industry, lower the cost of prescription drugs.” [@MedicareWorld, 10/26/21]

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA): “It’s not dead. I think that’s a fair statement.” [The Washington Post, 10/29/21]

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “It is time for Americans to get a better deal and I won’t stop fighting for it.” [@amyklobuchar, 10/28/21]


Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): “We should keep fighting to get the best deal in the package and push for it to include negotiation of drug prices.” [@ChrisMurphyCT, 10/28/21]

Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07): “I’m not backing down.” [@RepSusanWild, 10/27/21]

Memo to Congress From the America People: Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices Now

Recent Polling Confirms Drug Pricing Remains Voters’ Top Concern As Congress Finalizes the Build Back Better Act

Yesterday, Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act. While the historic agreement will dramatically lower health costs and expand care, it is missing a key plan: giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. As Big Pharma and their allies in Congress continue to fight against reform, Democratic leaders are working to ensure meaningful Medicare negotiation is included in the Build Back Better Act. Poll after poll shows that the #1 element of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is Medicare negotiation. Failure to include negotiation in Build Back Better means maintaining the broken system that lets drug companies dictate outrageous prices while millions of Americans struggle to afford their medications. 

Giving Medicare the full power to negotiate for lower prices is not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do. Democrats ran and won on health care in 2018 and 2020. It’s plain and simple: This is not the time to cower to Big Pharma’s demands — Medicare negotiation must remain in the final Build Back Better Act to lower drug prices for all Americans.

RECENT POLLING

Navigator Poll Finds Medicare Price Negotiation As The Best Reason Among Voters To Support Build Back Better. “Independents and economically persuadable Americans say giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices [is] the best reason to pass the plan.” [Navigator, 10/15/21]

Kaiser Family Foundation Poll Finds Strong Support For Negotiation Across Political Spectrum. “Of those in support: “83% total, 95% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 71% of Republicans.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/12/21]

  • Americans Favor Arguments For Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Than Those Made Against It. “One-third of the public say the argument from those opposed to drug price negotiations is convincing compared to a large majority (84%) who say they found the argument from those in favor convincing.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/12/21]

CBS Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Build Back Better Health Provisions, With Drug Price Negotiations At The Top. “88 percent of respondents support federal drug price negotiations, with 84 percent in support of expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage.” [CBS, 10/10/21]

Build Back Together Survey Across 48 Battleground Congressional Districts Finds Allowing Medicare To Negotiate Drug Prices Is The Most Popular Component Of The Build Back Better Plan. “Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices was the most popular of the 16 components of the Build Back Better plan tested. Over two-thirds of battleground district voters (71%) say this component makes them more likely to support the reconciliation plan. It is especially popular with seniors, but also the most popular component among both independents and those voters who are persuadable on the reconciliation plan.” [ALG Research, 9/29/21]

Hart Research Poll Finds Hart Medicare Negotiation Was The Most Important Element In Driving Support For The Build Back Better Package. “When making the case for the Build Back Better Act, it’s significantly strengthened by including health care. Support for the investments in critical priorities in the act is strong (74-26%) but is significantly stronger (80-20%) when the description includes that the plan reduces health care costs and the price of prescription drugs.” [Hart Research, 9/13/21

NAVIGATOR Polls Finds Economically Persuadable Americans Want Prescription Drug Negotiation. “86 percent of respondents support reducing the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, with 69 percent of Democrats, 49 of independents, 50 percent of Republicans, and 63 percent of economically persuadable Americans strongly supporting the measure.” [NAVIGATOR, 9/8/21]

PRESS CALL: Rep. Peter Welch on the State of Play for Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Act

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29 AT 1:30 PM ET***

As Congress Finalizes Budget Legislation, U.S. Rep. Welch Will Call on Congress to Deliver Lower Drug Prices for the American People

Washington, DC — Today, Friday, October 29 at 1:30 PM ET, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) will join Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss ongoing efforts to include strong provisions on Medicare negotiation in the final Build Back Better package and to call on Congress to deliver lower costs and better care to Americans by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Medicare negotiation is widely supported by nearly every Democratic member of Congress and 9 in 10 Americans.

Yesterday, Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act that fails to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices. Democratic leadership have pledged to include Medicare negotiation in the final bill. This event will make clear that this is not the time for half measures; Congress must give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans. 

WHO:
U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL)
Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care

WHAT: Press Call on the State of Play for Medicare Negotiations in Build Back Better Act 

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

Closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap in Build Back Better Act Will Save Lives, Improve Coverage for Millions, Reduce Racial Disparities in Health Care

Closing the Coverage Gap Is A Result of Tireless Advocacy by Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC-06) and Senators Warnock (D-GA), Baldwin (D-WI) and Ossoff (D-GA)

Washington, D.C. — Today, Democrats secured a provision to close the Medicaid coverage gap as part of the Build Back Better Act framework. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap will finally extend health insurance to over four million people in the 12 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion and address deep racial inequities in our health care system. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“This historic expansion of health insurance coverage will finally ensure that Americans in states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Wisconsin will be able to access affordable, quality care. Because of Republicans’ partisan war on health care, millions of people have been left uninsured in 12 states — it’s just not right. Thanks to the hard work of Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senators Rev. Raphael Warnock, Tammy Baldwin, Jon Ossoff, as well as President Biden and the Democratic leadership, the promise of Medicaid expansion in every state is finally a reality. Medicaid is a lifeline; it reduces racial disparities in health care, creates healthier communities and strengthens economies. The health care measures in Build Back Better will lower costs and improve and expand access to lifesaving care.”

Statement from Protect Our Care on the Build Back Better Framework 

Washington, DC — Today, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrats reached a historic agreement to pass the most significant expansion of American health care in more than a decade. The framework includes reducing health care premiums for people who buy health insurance on their own, extending coverage to millions by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, expanding Medicare benefits to cover hearing, and investing $150 billion to expand home care for seniors and people with disabilities. Health care remains a fundamental part of the Build Back Better agenda, and the proposals to reduce costs and expand care are overwhelmingly popular with voters across the political spectrum. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, Democrats are going to pass the most significant expansion to health care since the Affordable Care Act. The framework announced today will increase coverage and lower costs for millions of Americans, and working families will now have the health care they need. Today’s announcement shows President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to deliver on a future where health care is a right, not a privilege. 

“The Build Back Better Act will lower health insurance premiums for more than nine million Americans who buy health care on their own and provide coverage for millions of families. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap is the single most important step Congress can take to reduce racial inequities in health care, and it will save lives and strengthen families. Expanding hearing benefits in Medicare and investing in home care will significantly improve the health and well-being of seniors and people with disabilities nationwide. 

“The failure to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices is a victory for Big Pharma and a profound loss for the American people. As a result of millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and the actions of a handful of pro-Pharma lawmakers, the current framework would allow drug companies to continue to charge outrageous prices, and Americans will continue to struggle to pay for the medications they need to survive. We pledge to keep fighting for lower drug costs and urge others to do the same as the bill is considered by the House and Senate.”

Frontline Democratic Reps. Wild and Davids Deliver Dire Warning Against Congress Backing Down on Medicare Negotiations

U.S. Reps. Wild and Davids Underscored the Importance of Delivering Lower Drug Prices in the Build Back Better Act

Watch the Full Event Here. 

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA-07) and Sharice Davids (D-KS-03) joined Protect Our Care for a virtual press conference to call on their colleagues in Congress to deliver lower drug prices by giving Medicare the full power to negotiate. As lawmakers work to finalize budget legislation, press reports have indicated that Big Pharma has tightened its grip on its allies in Congress — potentially threatening prescription drug pricing reform altogether. During the call, Reps. Wild and Davids made clear that Medicare negotiation is among the most important provisions in the entire Build Back Better Act, and the measure cannot be watered down if Congress wants to meaningfully lower prescription drug prices for patients. 

Reps. Wild and Davids are leading the charge for lower drug prices for all Americans. In July, Rep. Wild led a letter from frontline House Democrats including Rep. Sharice Davids to Democratic leadership urging them to include Medicare negotiation power in the upcoming reconciliation bill. Rep. Davids recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post with other frontline Democrats arguing that Congress must stand up to drug companies and ensure that patients come first by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.

“No American should be forced into a possible choice between life-saving medicine or food on the table, and it’s unconscionable that pharmaceutical companies are still able to charge Americans several times more than what they charge for the same drugs in other countries – all while still recording massive profits,” said U.S. Representative Susan Wild. “I still firmly believe we must include drug pricing reform in the Build Back Better Act, not only because it would help pay for the bill, but because it’s what an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the American people are demanding from Congress. We cannot let this once-in-a-generation opportunity pass us by.”   

“We have a solution. Medicare negotiations would help save our government and private businesses billions of dollars and reduce premiums, prescription drug prices, and overall health care costs for everyone,” said U.S. Representative Sharice Davids. “We are in the 11th hour to make a difference in people’s lives, and we must demonstrate that we are here in service of our communities and constituents and not in service of pharmaceutical companies.” 

“The so-called alternatives to Medicare negotiation being pushed by pro-Pharma members would maintain the status quo where drug companies can dictate whatever price they want while Americans pay three times more for drugs as people in other countries,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Giving Medicare the full power to negotiate for lower prices is not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do. Democrats ran and won on health care in 2020, and frontline members understand that if we do nothing to meaningfully lower drug prices for patients, the Democratic majority is at stake. It’s plain and simple: this is not the time for capitulation to drug companies. Congress must act now to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans.”