The White House says President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress will call on lawmakers to lower prescription drug costs by acting this year to empower Medicare to negotiate prices.
A White House official confirmed Biden’s plan on condition of anonymity in advance of the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.
Medicare’s prescription drug benefit is delivered through private insurers, and the program is currently barred by law from negotiating prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.
As a candidate, Biden promised to change that, but he has yet to submit legislation to Congress. The official says Biden remains committed to working for reduced prescription drug prices.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving ahead with her plan to use expected savings from lower spending on drugs to expand Medicare benefits, capping prescription drug bills for seniors.
But Republicans are solidly opposed to Medicare negotiations, and some Senate Democrats have qualms. It’s unclear if Pelosi’s approach can get through the Senate.
Marking his first 100 days in office, President Biden will use his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday to pitch a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform the role government plays in American life.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.