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In what some may call a quixotic move, a group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday will introduce a bill that gives the federal government the authority to negotiate drug prices for Medicare.

The bill would allow formulary changes to generate more competition among companies that want preferred coverage for their medicines and also establish so-called fallback prices. These would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to pay what other countries or government agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, pay for a medicine if negotiations fail.


The effort is the latest attempt to address the complicated problem of high drug costs and, in particular, unravel federal law that prevents Medicare from haggling with drug makers. Other countries negotiate over drug prices, a point that has increasingly riled a wide swath of Americans and was also mentioned last week by President Trump.

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