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Biden to focus on drug prices, health costs during State of the Union

President Biden plans to call on Congress during Thursday night’s State of the Union address to double down on Medicare’s new power to negotiate drug prices and dramatically expand the number of drugs that will be eligible, the White House said. 

Medicare will eventually be able to negotiate the prices of 20 drugs under the current law, but White House officials told reporters Wednesday that Biden will propose expanding that number to 50 and bringing more drugs into the program sooner.  

Biden will also propose extending Medicare’s $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug costs to people with commercial insurance, officials said, as well as the law’s penalty on drugmakers who raise prices faster than the rate of inflation.  

“What’s good for seniors on the $2,000 cap is good for all Americans,” White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden said on a call with reporters. 

Biden will also ask lawmakers to extend a $35-per-month cost cap for insulin to the commercial market. There are bipartisan Senate bills that would accomplish that, but they have not been brought to the floor since they were introduced nearly two years ago.  

The proposals would represent a major expansion of the Inflation Reduction Act. While the law was sweeping, many of its biggest health provisions only apply to Medicare rather than the commercial market, because Democrats had to scale it back in order to pass it through the Senate.  

The policies that the president is set to pitch to Congress represent the Biden campaign’s effort to remind voters of the administration’s actions to lower health costs, even though many of the biggest wins won’t take effect this year, while also trying to showcase a path forward for the next four years.  

The administration is focusing on pocketbook issues aimed at helping families keep expenses in check and tying health policies to Biden’s economic successes. 

Still, the policies represent a wish list and are not likely to be enacted with Republicans in control of the House. 

Source: The Hill

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