“This Is Unsustainable”: Nancy Pelosi Talks Drug Prices In Iowa Visit

Photo by Julie Fleming

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Friday visited Des Moines this weekend to talk about the state of U.S. politics, what she’s working on as Speaker and, of course, Donald Trump.

Understandably, there was a healthy amount of time set aside early for Pelosi to talk about her relationship with the Trump Administration, the president and the iconic October photo.

Much to the audience’s pleasure, Pelosi set the scene for the photo and explained the comments from herself and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer that led to the Speaker pointing a finger at the President before walking out of the room. Trump posted the photo with the caption, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Pelosi, however, had a different perspective on that moment.

Pelosi took questions from Polk County Democrats’ Lindsay Paulsen about goings-on in the House, including negotiating the USMCA trade deal, navigating the impeachment inquiry and working to pass health care legislation.

Lower Drug Costs Now Act Of 2019

Pelosi talked at length about the health care bill she recently introduced, H.R. 3, which should come to a vote in the House soon. Originally titled the “Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019,” H.R. 3 was re-named the “Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019” after the Maryland congressman died last week.

International price setting was a major piece of the bill, along with the government’s ability to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

The Speaker talked about countries that would shape the price-setting model for the United States, nations with “similar economies” like Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Pelosi said the U.S. must negotiate drug prices and set a price cap on prescription medications so Americans don’t pay wildly more for drugs that citizens of other countries.

“It can’t be more than 120% of other markets,” she explained, adding there was no reason U.S. consumers should pay 20% more than other developed nations.

Some of the Democratic candidates for president talked about these specific proposals dating back to the AARP Candidate Forums in late July. Now, the ideas have surfaced in a concrete proposal making its way through Congress.

“This Is Unsustainable”

Pelosi expressed some frustration about the health care system and prescription drug costs, talking about the need to enact laws meaningfully that addressed the myriad issues at hand.

“Why don’t we work together to solve this problem?” Pelosi asked. “This is unsustainable. I’ve seen grown men cry on the campaign trail worried about providing for their family’s pharmaceutical needs with other things like rent, groceries and other medical costs.”

The Speaker talked about other health care and pharmaceutical bills introduced in D.C., including a proposal from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley that neglects to enforce price-setting mechanisms or allow the government to negotiate drug prices.

Pelosi said the House and Senate could pass legislation, “if we get rid of big, dark money.”

But, she added: “Big pharma will spend a lot of money against this; it may be about impeachment or other things, but it is all about the money.”

She also addressed newly released ads against the bill and negative comments made by GOP senators that H.R. 3 would inhibit pharmaceutical investment in research for new, life-saving drugs.

“No,” Pelosi stated, bluntly. “Instead of profits to pharmaceutical companies, it will be investments in innovation at the National Institute of Health through grants,” making her case the government should take more of a role in research and development of new drugs.

 

By Josh Cook
Posted 10/28/19

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