In a few weeks, we will find out whether Congress lowers the price of prescription drugs paid by Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Times Herald.

On average, Americans pay about 2.5 times more for their prescriptions than those in other nations, a study from the RAND Corporation found earlier this year.

Cheaper generic drugs account for 84% of drugs sold in the U.S. market, but they make up only 12% of the nation’s spending on pharmaceuticals. It is clear that brand-name drugs are a major cause of concern, as they are the primary drivers of high prescription drug prices.

However, the federal government’s hands are tied thanks to drug industry lobbying in 2003 when Congress authorized Medicare’s drug benefit, according to the news outlet.

In 2019, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow Medicare some power to negotiate drug prices. However, the bill went nowhere in the Senate.

At this point, it is unclear whether Congress will lower the prices of prescription drugs. Pharma companies and hundreds of lobbyists are trying to make sure that no negotiations are made anytime sooner.

Steve Knievel, an advocate for Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program, says, “There is nobody that doesn’t want this to happen except Pharma and its allies. The popular outrage is immense. People desperately want drug pricing reform.”

A new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that more than 80% of Americans support the federal government negotiating drug prices.

Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President for Special Initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted, “We didn’t poll on baseball, motherhood, and apple pie, but I’m not sure they would score much higher.”

There is a big outcry for drug price negotiations and passing a bill to approve price negotiations is a bit difficult at the moment – thanks to the drug industry and its allies who are in no mood to negotiate.

Even if a bill is passed, there is the danger that whatever drug benefit created could be “means-tested,” according to Times Herald. This means the benefit would not be available to all those who are covered under Medicare.