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Democrats’ sweeping healthcare expansion at risk amid new clash over drug pricing


Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) is leading the opposition to Democrats’ prescription drug plan, arguing that it would decimate investment in the pharmaceutical industry and threaten jobs. WASHINGTON —

Democrats are sharply divided over whether to require drugmakers to negotiate prices with the federal government, a rift threatening key parts of President Biden’s $3.5-trillion social safety net bill — including the possible expansion of Medicare and Obamacare — and one that could put the entire effort at risk.

Three House Democrats on Wednesday blocked the House Energy and Commerce Committee from advancing a provision to allow drug-pricing negotiation in favor of an alternative that other Democrats say is far weaker.

Given the slim majority Democrats have in the House, if they remain opposed, they would be just one vote away from being able to block the entire effort on the House floor, assuming all Republicans remain opposed, as expected.

The intraparty disputes underscore the sharp policy differences Democrats are trying to overcome as they try to pass Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, which aims to enact a series of social benefits, such as universal prekindergarten, child-care tax credits and elder care.

Although the drug policy was approved by a rival committee later Wednesday afternoon, […]

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