December 5, 2022

IRVINE, Calif., Oct 14 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden criticized Republicans and drug companies during a stop at a California community college, as he campaigned for fellow Democrats in November’s midterm elections as his party tries to retain thin margins in Congress.

The trip includes stops in California on Friday and Oregon on Saturday as Biden positions his party as a champion of consumers and lower healthcare costs at a time that inflation ranks among voters’ top concerns. The midterm elections are on Nov. 8.

“We took on Big Pharma and we beat them, finally,” Biden said, referring to the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices; caps the costs senior citizens will pay for prescriptions; and brings insulin prescriptions down to $35 for Medicare beneficiaries.

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Biden promised to cap the insulin price at $35 for all Americans if Democrats keep the House and Senate. Most forecasts show Democrats with a slight advantage in the Senate and Republicans with a larger advantage in the House.

Biden alleged that Republicans will repeal the prescription drug price caps and take away Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices if they take control.

Biden was introduced by Representative Katie Porter, who has grilled bank and drug company executives on their profits in widely viewed Congressional hearings.

“Here’s the stone cold truth. Corporate greed worsens health outcomes, rips off taxpayers and threatens our capitalist economy,” Porter said, alleging the pharmaceutical industry was crushing competition and price transparency.

Biden signed an order Friday requiring the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to outline within 90 days how it will use new models of care and payment to cut drug costs.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. consumer prices jumped 8.2% in the 12 months through September, after peaking above 9% in the summer and growing at their fastest pace since 1981. Healthcare costs were partly to blame in the most recent month, along with food and rent.

“Americans are squeezed by the cost of living – that’s been true for years and is a key reason the president ran,” the White House said in a fact sheet blaming pharmaceutical companies for raising prices. “Health care costs in particular are driving inflation.”

HHS was given the power to promote new approaches to lowering costs and widening care through an Innovation Center, created by a 2010 healthcare reform law known as Obamacare and housed at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In August, Biden signed the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act. read more

Some 65 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare programs, which have repeatedly come under fire for its cost to taxpayers.

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Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Jeff Mason; Editing by Robert Birsel, Heather Timmons and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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