Rice one of three House Dems to oppose plan aimed at lowering drug prices

Rice one of three House Dems to oppose plan aimed at lowering drug prices
U.S. Rep Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) was one of three Democrats that opposed a measure that would permit Medicare to lower drug prices last week. (Photo courtesy of the congresswoman's office)

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) was one of three House Democrats who opposed a plan aimed at lowering drug prices last week.

Rice, Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), and Scott Peters (D-California) joined House Republicans in voting against a proposal put forth by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill last week. The committee’s proposal would permit Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices.

“I support many of the proposals being considered this week, but I do not support advancing policies that are not fiscally responsible and jeopardize the bill’s final passage,” Rice said in a statement last week.

A spokesman for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said, despite the 29-29 vote, lower drug prices will remain a key element of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

“Delivering lower drug costs is a top priority of the American people and will remain a cornerstone of the Build Back Better Act as work continues between the House, Senate and White House on the final bill,” Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly said in a statement.

Connelly also said that the House Ways and Means Committee passed a measure with similar language to the one that failed in Energy and Commerce. The plan could re-emerge in Congress as part of the package, officials said.

The drug pricing measure would save the government $456 billion over the next decade and reduce prices on pharmaceuticals by 57 percent to 75 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The negotiated prices would be available to Medicare and private insurers, officials said.

Savings that would be accrued through the plan would be aimed at providing new coverage for Americans without insurance, extra benefits for those who use Medicare, and other subsidies for people with their own coverage.

Since first running for Congress in 2015, Rice has received $66,000 from pharmaceutical companies, compared with Peters’ and Schrader’s $1.5 million from pharmaceutical donors over the course of their careers.

Patrick Gaspard, president of the Center for American Progress, told Newsday that the three representatives were prioritizing the potential earnings of pharmaceutical companies rather than the patients they serve.

“To the contrary of what they contend, their opposition to the drugs proposal threatens the entirety of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda,” Gaspard told Newsday.

Efforts to reach Rice for further comment were unavailing.

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  1. Kathleen Rice’s response to this is a media blitz. Just heard an ad on Bloomberg touting her commitment to infrastructure, and a blurb in my LinkedIn timeline (of all things) from an obscure 501(c)3 called the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, touting her support for access to medication.

    This is pretty lame stuff, but the people in this County can’t forgive her for torching a piece of legislation with such massive public support.

    Fatally compromised her office.


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