Statement: Excluding Medicare Drug Price Negotiations From Build Back Better Would Be a Disaster, But It’s Not Too Late to Improve the Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the White House unveiled its framework for the Build Back Better package, which excludes Medicare drug price negotiation and expanded benefits for dental and vision. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement:

“Americans of all political persuasions overwhelmingly support giving Medicare robust authority to negotiate drug prices in order to deliver cost savings for all Americans and to improve Medicare to cover dental and hearing care.”

“There is one reason, and one reason only, not to move on Medicare price negotiation: the political power of Big Pharma.”

“Failing to take this opportunity to end Big Pharma price-gouging will mean Americans will continue to go without medicines they need: one-in-four Americans report rationing or skipping prescriptions because of high prices. It will mean that many of those who do find a way to pay for needed medications will face economic insecurity.”

“Similarly, Americans overwhelmingly support improving Medicare to cover the health services that everyone needs, including dental and vision care.”

“Failing to deliver on campaign promises and use this moment to expand Medicare to cover dental and vision will leave millions of seniors unable to get the dental and vision care they need. The numbers are stark: 70% of seniors who had trouble eating because of their teeth had not been to the dentist in the past year and also that 40% of seniors with vision troubles had not had an eye exam in the past year.”

“Bowing to Big Pharma and other industry interests at the expense of the American people is also an enormous political mistake. Addressing drug corporation price gouging is something that Democrats ran on, and now they will fail to deliver. In poll after poll, Medicare drug price negotiation and Medicare improvements are among the most popular components of the Build Back Better set of policies and among those that Americans are most passionate about. Failing to deliver will increase cynicism, depress civic engagement and make people doubt that government can work for them.”

“The political problem goes beyond electoral calculus. Among significant numbers of Americans, there is growing a dangerous alienation and embrace of conspiracy thinking. When people see big, powerful corporations exerting control over government at the expense of regular folks’ desperate needs, that alienation will only grow.”

“It’s not too late for the ‘adults in the room’ to tell conservative Democrats who are obstructing agreement on Medicare drug pricing and Medicare improvements that they must accede to the will of the majority – the majority of their caucus and the majority of the American people – rather than Big Pharma donors and other health industry interests.”