On Tuesday, Politico reported that GOP lawmakers are holding up a bipartisan emergency funding bill to provide treatment and research for coronavirus.
The main reason? They object to a provision that prevents drug manufacturers from overcharging the government for any vaccines or other treatment.
“Democrats are insisting the spending package include significant funding to purchase large amounts of coronavirus diagnostics, treatments and vaccine, when it becomes available, which would then be made available to the public free of cost, according to a senior Democratic aide,” reported Politico. However, “Republicans are trying to eliminate the ‘fair and reasonable price’ federal procurement standard for the vaccines and treatments that will be developed and purchased with the emergency funds. ‘Fair and reasonable price’ is a basic standard to prevent price gouging in federal contracts. Without the language, drugmakers could charge the government above-market rates, meaning fewer Americans will have access, according to the Democratic aide.”
A vaccine for coronavirus is in the works, but experts suggest it is still at least a year away from becoming available. Other therapeutic treatments may become available before that.
“Our Republican friends don’t want to see the kinds of limitations that we want to see,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to reporters after a meeting with White House officials.
Congressional leaders hope to pass the bill by the end of the week.