Bipartisanship is the Key to GOP's Future in Drug Prices
By Lindsay Brown, President of Prescription Justice Board of Directors
With the Biden administration in full-swing pushing a new agenda in Congress, Republicans circled back to the prescription drug price crisis in February and March. Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Braun (R-IN) are savvy enough to realize that the only way Republicans will get anything done in the 117th Congress is to work across the aisle.
Sen. Grassley has a track record of being bullish on drug price reform. Last month, he and Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) collaborated to reintroduce the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act which has wide bipartisan co-sponsorship and is right in line with our priorities here at Prescription Justice.
Sens. Braun and Murkowski (R-AK) surprised us by partnering with Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Smith (D-MN) to introduce the FAIR Drug Pricing Act. Braun and Murkowski don’t have the strongest history of backing drug price reform but I commend their efforts with the FAIR Drug Pricing Act, especially for its bipartisanship.
Both of these pieces of legislation are reintroductions of legislation that never made it to a vote in the past under McConnell’s leadership but they’re both promising moves towards bipartisan cooperation. In a 50/50 Senate, Republicans may need to concede some more liberal policy points to get drug price reforms passed. Failure to cooperate and pass drug price legislation, or holding out on a Yes vote on good legislation to spite Democratic leadership, will ensure Republicans won’t regain power for at least another 2 years. The voters have spoken: A January 2021 Harvard/Politico poll shows drug pricing as the #2 most important political issue to 87% of voters. Like I said in my last post, ignoring this issue or letting it fizzle due to petty political squabbles will be a death knell for the Republican party’s chances at regaining control of Congress.
Republicans can and should be on the right side of history for legislative action helping average Americans afford their prescriptions, even if they have to act in their state legislatures to get things done. At the state level, MA Governor Charlie Baker proposed penalties for drug companies overcharging for drugs enshrined in the 2022 state budget. Oklahoma and North Dakota are also working on encouraging legislation that would allow importation from Canada.
I’m buoyed by the amount of prospective legislation that’s cropped up from Republicans in the last month! I really hope this signals a change in tactic towards bipartisanship to get something done on the drug pricing crisis. Democrats have shown recently that they don’t need to cross the aisle to get their agenda passed–it would behoove Republicans to take the high road and work towards achieving some unity for the sake of Americans rather than digging in to being the opposition party.