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President Joe Biden is the latest top Washington official to test positive for covid-19, following Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. But work continues, particularly on a Senate bill that could, for the first time, allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket medication costs.
Meanwhile, both supporters and opponents of abortion rights are struggling to find their footing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturn of the federal right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
Although some Democrats and many political pundits are criticizing the Senate for scaling back the president’s Build Back Better agenda to be mostly a health care bill, the proposal in that bill to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for some drugs would be a major change that drugmakers have successfully fought for two decades.The bill, which hasn’t been released in full, will include only those provisions that have been approved by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), because all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate will be needed to pass the bill. In addition to allowing price negotiations on 10 drugs in the first year, the legislation would penalize drugmakers that raise prices above the rate of inflation and limit Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket drug spending to $2,000 a year.The bill is also expected to include provisions to extend for an additional two years the enhanced subsidies for premiums on health policies purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. Those details have not yet been released.Progressives have been dismayed at the administration’s lackluster answer to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe. Even as the White House notes that there are limits to what the president can do, the administration has been more cautious than many expected in announcing how it plans to respond. For example, im …