Lawmakers at odds over how to lower prescription drug prices

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Courtesy of Boston CBS

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers in both the House and Senate agree that prescription drug prices are too high.

But both chambers are pushing different ways to lower them.

“We pay more for prescription drugs than any other developed country. Why are Americans paying more for the exact same drugs,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.). “This bill, HR 3 will put an end to that.”

Rep. Chu says H.R. 3 would lower prescription drug prices by allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate costs with drug manufacturers.

Congresswoman Chu says that will save lives in states like California, where the cost of living is already high, and seniors have to make tough choices about how to spend their money.

“To think you’d skip taking drugs because you can’t afford them, that’s just horrendous,” Rep. Chu said.

“They have to choose between eating or paying their medicine. They have to choose between rent and medicine,” explains Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.).

But while H.R. 3 has the backing of House Democrats like Rep. Chu and Rep. Ruiz, Republicans and the White House don’t support it.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) favors his bipartisan bill co-authored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

“The congressional budget office says our bill doesn’t impose price controls,” Sen. Wyden said.

Sen. Wyden says his Senate version allows drug companies to set their own prices but strips them of federal subsidies if they’re caught price gouging.

“Very quickly under our legislation, you’d start to see more competition,” Sen. Wyden explains.

H.R. 3 comes up for a vote in the House Thursday.

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