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Big Pharma Is Spending Millions To Prevent The Federal Government From Renegotiating Medicare Drug Prices

Congress is getting closer to an agreement on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
Eric Haynes
Creative Commons
Congress is getting closer to an agreement on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

On this edition of Your Call, we're discussing how the reconciliation bill would — for the first time — allow the federal government to renegotiate drug prices for 62 million people on Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ability to negotiate certain drug prices would reduce costs by between 57 and 75 percent. 83 percent of respondents who took a Kaiser Family Foundation survey support this provision.

According to reports, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have spent a whopping $22.4 million on lobbying efforts this year to kill the provision. Last year alone, the six largest drug companies in the US made nearly $50 billion dollars in profits, while the ten highest paid pharma execs made over $500 million combined.

Every Republican opposes the plan, along with a handful of Democrats, including Senators Robert Menendez, Kyrsten Sinema, and Tom Carper, and Representative Scott Peters. They have received around $1 million in donations from Big Pharma this year, according to OpenSecrets.


Rachel Roubein, national health-care reporter for The Washington Post and author of The Health 202 daily morning newsletter

Juliette Cubanski, Deputy Director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, where she has been conducting research and analysis on Medicare policy issues since 2004

Web Resources: 

The Washington Post, Rachel Roubein: How PhRMA is trying to thwart Democrats' effort to lower drug prices

Jacobin, Julia Rock: Insurance Companies Are Trying Desperately to Stop Medicare Expansion in the Budget Reconciliation

The Intercept, Sara Sirota and Ryan Grim: Menendez's Opposition to Drug Pricing Reform May Imperil Democratic Agenda

Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.
Lea is a producer for Your Call on KALW Local Public Radio. She graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in 2018.