In a 234-to-183 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to rein in the high costs of prescription drugs and to bolster elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Every Democratic representative voted in favor of the bill, which analysts say is a move to position themselves as the party on the side of health care consumers ahead of the 2020 election.
The bill contains strategies to increase the availability of generic drugs (a bipartisan goal), as well as measures that reverse Trump-administration policies that Democrats have said are “sabotaging” the ACA. These include restoring advertising and other outreach activities for ACA enrollment and blocking rules introduced last year that encourage Americans to purchase inexpensive, short-term health plans that cover fewer services.
Despite the three Republican votes in favor, the Senate said it had no plans to consider the bill. Democratic leaders took the opportunity to criticize Senate Republican leaders and the White House, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noting, “The support for these bills is alive and well among the American people. [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [R-KY]) will be hearing from them because these bills are a matter of life and death and certainly quality of life for America’s working families.”
However, Republican representatives noted that the party supported the three measures intended to foster development of generic drugs but argued that combining those with the ACA-focused bill was a failed political strategy on behalf of Democrats.