U.S. Congressional Democrats, Biden reach deal on drug prices

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Congressional Democrats and the White House reached an agreement on a plan to lower prescription drug prices on Tuesday, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

“I’m pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached to lower prescription drug prices for seniors and families in the Build Back Better legislation,” Schumer told reporters.

“Fixing prescription drug pricing has consistently been a top issue for Americans year after year, including the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans who want to see a change because they simply cannot afford their medications,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the agreement would allow Medicare, the American health insurance program for the elderly, to negotiate prescription drug prices. Also included in the deal is an annual cap on out-of-pocket costs, among other provisions.

The office of Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat whose support is needed for passage of any bill, said in a statement she supported the agreement following a discussion with Representative Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and that chamber’s top Democrat. Sinema’s office called the measure “historic” and “transformative.”

Pelosi told reporters the deal was “just about finished. We’re very happy about it.”

Democrats have been trying to wrap up negotiations on a proposal on social spending and climate change that is the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Biden last week unveiled a $1.75 trillion proposal that would offer free preschool for 3- and 4-year olds, expand home care for the elderly and provide tax credits for companies investing in clean energy sources.

But the package was half the size of Biden’s previous $3.5 trillion goal, some priorities were scrapped, such as new paid family leave benefits and some key climate control provisions.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; additional reporting by Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Editing by David Gregorio)

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