Neal has received over $670,000 in campaign cash from pharmaceutical companies since 2007, according to Kaiser Health News
Following the lead of pharma-friendly Rep. Richard Neal, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee this week crushed several progressive amendments to a House drug pricing bill that would have expanded the number of medicines covered by the legislation and extended lower costs to the nation’s tens of millions of uninsured.
The Intercept reported Wednesday that Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, warned his Democratic colleagues against offering any amendments to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (H.R. 3) during the committee’s markup of the legislation on Tuesday.
“The chances that the typical patient will see their prices lowered are akin to winning the lottery. Is it so burdensome to ask that a few more drugs be done? No, it’s not.”
—Rep. Lloyd Doggett
“We intend to stick with the measure in front of us,” Neal told The Hill.
But Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the author of a more ambitious drug pricing bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in April brushed aside in favor of the more moderate H.R. 3, introduced amendments anyway during the marathon hearing.
If adopted, Doggett’s amendments would have raised the minimum number of drugs the government would be required to negotiate under the legislation from 35 to 50 and guaranteed that the approximately 30 million people without health insurance in the U.S. would benefit from the lower negotiated rates.
“The chances that the typical patient will see their prices lowered are akin to winning the lottery,” Doggett said. “Is it so burdensome to ask that a few more drugs be done? No, it’s not.”
Despite Doggett’s plea, most House Democrats on the committee followed Neal’s lead in rejecting the amendments. The legislation passed out of the Ways and Means Committee late Tuesday by a vote of 24-7-1, with Doggett the lone member voting present.
Under the current version of H.R. 3, it would take the government over 100 years to negotiate lower prices for all of the prescription drugs covered by Medicare, Doggett said in a document summarizing his issues with the bill.
“My objective is not to let the perfect get in the way of the good, but to ensure that the good we seek actually reaches those whom we serve,” Doggett wrote in a Dear Colleague letter (pdf) in September. “In short, more work and amendments are needed to make H.R. 3 effective in achieving our shared objective of lowering drug prices for American families.”
Today the Ways & Means Committee is voting on amendments to the Dem drug pricing bill.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett wants to see it strengthened, pointing out it:
✔️applies to less than 1% of drugs
✔️does nothing for the uninsured
✔️keeps the noninterfence clausehttps://t.co/7eUX5RFCCi pic.twitter.com/WQmETqYDIa
— Emily Kopp (@emilyakopp) October 22, 2019
The Intercept‘s Aída Chavez reported that Neal “is one of the biggest beneficiaries” of campaign cash from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.
“According to Kaiser Health News,” Chavez noted, “he’s received $670,100 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies since 2007.”
Chavez’s colleague Ryan Grim was among those noting that Neal is currently facing a primary challenge from his left flank:
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) October 24, 2019
Donald Shaw, reporter with the investigative outlet Sludge, highlighted the slew of major pharmaceutical companies that have donated to Neal just this year:
Some of the pharmaceutical company PACs Neal has taken $$ from so far this year:
-Eli Lilly $5k
-Vertex Pharma $2.5k
-Biomarin Pharma $2k
— Donald Shaw (@donnydonny) October 23, 2019
As Common Dreams reported in June, progressives accused Pelosi of cutting them out of negotiations over the details of H.R. 3 and warned the bill would be far too soft on the pharmaceutical industry.
“If we don’t address this in a big and bold way, a lot of us should go home and start knitting,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters at the time.
Progressives were ultimately able to win minor concessions from leadership, such as raising from 25 to 35 the minimum number of drugs the government must negotiate under the bill.
When Pelosi finally unveiled the H.R. 3 in September, advocacy groups cautiously applauded the measure but said improvements would be necessary to make a significant dent in soaring drug prices.
“Fundamentally, high medicine prices are rooted in the monopoly powers our government grants to prescription drug corporations,” Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program, said in a statement. “Making medicine affordable for everyone requires that we challenge this power.”
75 years ago: When atomic scientist Leo Szilard tried to halt dropping bombs over Japan
As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention. They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki). Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date: July 3.
On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman's march to using the atomic bomb--still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity--against Japanese cities.
‘Insane’: Park ranger shoots unarmed man through his heart and then handcuffs his dead body
A ranger at Carlsbad Caverns National Park tased and then fatally shot a man during a New Mexico traffic stop and then handcuffed his lifeless body.
Charles "Gage" Lorentz was traveling March 21 from his work site in Pecos, Texas, to his family's home in southwest Colorado when he detoured at the national park to meet a friend, and that's where he encountered National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell, reported KOB-TV.
The ranger stopped the 25-year-old Lorentz for speeding on a dirt road near the park's Rattlesnake Springs area, and Mitchell's lapel video shows him ordering Lorentz to spread his feet and move closer to a railing.
Former Trump administration official refers to a renowned Black scholar as ‘some criminal’
President Donald Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to renowned Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "some criminal" in an interview with The New York Times Magazine.
Sessions, one of Trump's earliest supporters who was later fired after years of attacks from the president, is currently attempting to reclaim his old Senate seat in Alabama. Sessions has desperately tried to tout his Trumpist credentials on the campaign trail, even as the president has waged a campaign aimed at sabotaging his primary bid.