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As lawmakers in Washington grapple with legislation to alter the upward trajectory of prescription drug prices, a key talking point is likely to be found in a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office. Released late last month with little fanfare, the analysis concluded that limiting prices — as envisioned in a controversial House bill known as H.R. 3 — would lead to 59 fewer new drugs over the next three decades.

Starting in 2025, the bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for at least 50 brand-name drugs that lack lower-cost generic competition, and make the same price available to private payers, as well. Although the CBO finding dovetails with rallying cries from the pharmaceutical industry and investors about threats to innovation, there is more to the analysis, according to Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. We spoke with him about the nuances and implications. This is an edited version of our conversation.

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