Biden Supports Manchin's Drug Reform Proposal
Manchin is pressuring the Biden administration and the Democratic Party to accept a legislative package that will bring down the cost of prescription medications and strengthen health insurance coverage even though it does nothing to address climate change or raise corporate taxes.
On Friday, President Joe Biden conceded to a compromise that had been all but dictated by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia: focus on health care subsidies and prescription drug reform, but put off action on climate change until later.
Democrats are being put in an extremely difficult position by Joe Manchin, who is forcing them to choose between making a deal now to reduce the costs of health care premiums and prescription drugs or attempting to negotiate a larger bill in September that includes climate and tax reform, with no guarantee that the bill will pass.
In a statement released by the White House, President Biden promised to take "executive action" on climate change and clean energy if Congress failed to do so.
But he also asked the Senate to do what Democrats originally intended and pass a modest plan that would "provide Medicare the flexibility to negotiate lower medication prices and to avert an increase in health insurance premiums for millions of families" before the August recess. However, he also requested that the leadership of the Senate enact a limited bill before the August recess that would "provide Medicare the flexibility to negotiate lower prescription prices and to avert an increase in health insurance premiums for millions of families."
This concession serves as an informal commitment to the passage of a package that is comparable to what Manchin has been lobbying..
This week, the Democrat from West Virginia communicated to his party's leadership that he would not back a broader package that included elements related to climate change and tax increases.
On Friday, he provided clarification that he may be able to support those steps, but only until the inflation figure for July has been released.
That would necessitate that Congress wait until after the August recess before proceeding, even though it remains unclear whether or not Manchin will even support the final proposal.
Discussions about a larger deficit reduction package were thrown into disarray due to the meeting between Schumer and Manchin on Thursday night. Consequently, the only option that may be open to Democrats who want to deliver significantly more comprehensive legislation to President Joe Biden's desk is a limited bill that focuses on health care.
Because it is typical to determine health care costs during the summer, the Democrats would run the risk of alienating people before the midterm elections if they waited until September to make their decision. In addition, there is no assurance that Manchin would agree to a more comprehensive proposal.
In the health care arrangement that Manchin proposed, premiums would be lowered for a period of two years. However, Democrats were looking for a solution that would be permanent because Manchin has in the past insisted that new programs should not be made temporary and should be paid for in full.
This year, it was Manchin himself who made the initial proposal to keep a so-called reconciliation package, which can circumvent a filibuster by Republicans, focused on budget reduction, climate expenditures, tax increases on the affluent and businesses, and prescription drug reform.
Nevertheless, the influential moderate has become more pessimistic about the outlines of that package over this week as inflation has continued to be a problem for the economy. On Wednesday, the influential moderate stated to the press that it was unclear what other goals the Democrats could accomplish besides expanding access to prescription drug coverage.