( CNN) The next presidential primary contests are more than a year away. But presumed nominees are already trying to stake a claim to one of health care’s hot-button concerns: surging prescription drug prices.
Spurred on by midterm election results that showed health care to be a deciding issue, lawmakers — some of whom have already launched presidential running exploratory committees — are pushing a bevy of new proposals and approaches.
Few if any of those notions will likely make it to the president’s desk. Nevertheless, Senate Democrats eyeing higher office and trying street cred in the debate are devising more innovative and aggressive strategies to take on Big Pharma.
Make a public option for generic narcotics. The government could fabricate generics( directly or through a private contractor) if there is a shortage or aren’t enough competitors to keep prices down. This comes from a bill put forth by Sen. Elizabeth Warren( D-Mass .) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky( D-Ill .). Let Medicare negotiate drug prices. This idea has many backers — what differs is the method of enforcement. Sen. Sherrod Brown( D-Ohio) has suggested that if the company and the government can’t reach an agreement, the government could take away the company’s patent rights. A proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders( I-Vt .) and Rep. Elijah Cummings( D-Md .) would address stalled negotiations by letting Medicare pay the lowest amount among: Medicaid’s best cost, the highest price a single federal purchaser pays or the median price paid for a specific drug in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Canada. Pay what they do abroad. Legislation from Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna( D-Calif .) would require companies to price their medications no higher than the median of what’s charged in Germany, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Canada. If producers fail to comply, other companies could get the rights to make those drugs, too. Penalize price-gouging. This aimed at providing manufacturers who raise drug prices more than 30 percentage in five years. Punishments could include requiring the company to reimburse those who paid the elevated cost, forcing the drugmaker to lower its price, or charging a penalty up to three times what a company received from boosting the price. Backers include Sens. Richard Blumenthal( D-Conn .), Kamala Harris( D-Calif .), Jeff Merkley( D-Ore .) and Amy Klobuchar( D-Minn .). Import medications. A Sanders-Cummings bill would let patients, wholesalers and pharmacies import narcotics from abroad — starting with Canada, and leaving the door open for some other countries. Sen. Chuck Grassley( R-Iowa) and Klobuchar have a separate bill that is specific to patients get medication from Canada alone. Abolish “pay-for-delay.” From Grassley and Klobuchar, this legislation would tackle bargains in which a branded drugmaker pays off a generic one to keep a vying product from coming to market.