A drug pricing provision in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package currently making its way through Congress could derail the entire package, and Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) is one of two New Jersey Democrats facing pressure from within the Garden State to break with the party and oppose the provision.
In a letter obtained by Breitbart News, New Jersey Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R) implored Kim to reject the prescription drug cost provision, calling it “fundamentally flawed” and warning it would be detrimental to the “access and affordability of quality medications” for New Jersey’s senior citizens and that it would hinder advancements in medicine.
“This legislation will be directly responsible for placing an undue burden on these seniors who can least afford it,” Peters wrote, adding he is “hopeful” that Kim “would be open to a reasonable bipartisan alternative that does not place an undue financial hardship on our seniors or our state’s economy as a whole.”
Peters also noted that a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) study found the drug pricing provision “would result in up to 100 fewer new drugs being introduced in the next decade,” a figure certain to impact the economy in New Jersey, a hotbed for pharmaceutical companies including Johnson & Johnson, MSD, Sanofi, and several others.
Read a copy of the letter below:
The provision, which would give the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to negotiate drug prices, is already on shaky ground after it failed in the Energy and Commerce Committee last week. Three Democrats, Reps. Scott Peters (CA), Kathleen Rice (NY), and Kurt Schrader (OR), joined all committee Republicans in opposing it.
Despite the three Democrats’ opposition, the provision remains alive after it passed through the Ways and Means Committee, with a fourth Democrat, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL), opposing it in that committee.
The four Democrat rejections signal a rocky path ahead for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who cannot afford to lose those votes as she attempts to pass the mammoth package through the House with a historically slim majority.
A Pelosi spokesperson told Politico the speaker nevertheless still plans to charge ahead with attempting to include the drug pricing measure in the reconciliation package. Passing that part of the package would serve to replace H.R. 3 — the “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” — and ultimately fulfill one of Pelosi’s top priorities.
In addition to Kim, another New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ), is also facing pressure to reject the drug pricing provision. In June, a mayor within Malinowski’s district urged the Democrat congressman to oppose H.R. 3, saying it would “destroy” the pharmaceutical industry and crush jobs in New Jersey if it were to pass.
Both Kim and Malinowski are up for reelection next year and considered vulnerable in their races, and on top of pressure they are facing from the state officials, the pair of Democrats are being targeted with ads by Heritage Action. The influential conservative think tank is launching an $860,000 ad campaign aimed at a handful of Senate Democrats and 23 House Democrats, including Kim and Malinowski, over the provision, Politico first reported.
Heritage celebrated the three Energy and Commerce Democrats’ votes against the provision last week, claiming the provision would not in fact lower prescription drug prices but would instead “drive up the cost of medicine, eliminate drug options, and take away control from patients and doctors”:
Big Win for the American people!#HR3 would drive up the cost of medicine, eliminate drug options, and take away control from patients and doctors.
— Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) September 15, 2021
Calls to reject the current drug pricing changes are also coming from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the powerful trade group representing pharmaceutical companies. PhRMA is launching its own seven-figure ad campaign against the proposal, per the Hill. The CEOs of PhRMA’s member companies also signed onto an open letter, contending the proposal would stifle innovation, which the CEOs explained is critical in the pharmaceutical industry as demonstrated by the fast-paced advancements the industry was able to make to address coronavirus.
Breitbart News reached out to both Kim and Malinowski for an update on their stance on the drug pricing proposal but did not receive a response from either of the Democrat congressmen.
Write to Ashley Oliver at email@example.com.