Bernie Sanders’ appointment as chair of the Senate Health Committee will give him authority to put pressure on drug companies.
- Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), two-time presidential candidate and self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist,” was appointed the Senate Health Committee Chairman earlier this month.
- Previous committee chair Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) stepped down from the position to head the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
- Sanders has long been an advocate for health-care reform, pushing “Medicare-for-All” and dressing down drug companies and health insurance companies. Now he is in a position to put larger medical companies on the witness stand for what Axios notes will be a series of “contentious hearings.”
- Senator Sanders has already announced his plans to open a hearing on drug prices. “We’re working on a strategy right now that will be very aggressive,” he says.
Why It’s News
While no new health-care reform legislation is likely to pass through Congressional gridlock before the 2024 elections, Senator Sanders is in a position to grill corporations that he has long accused of “greed” and “ripping off Americans.”
Sanders has yet to state if he intends to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he already has a sizable base of supporters who share his ideas.
Axios notes that the “bully pulpit” he now possesses will give him much power to spread his ideas and subpoena corporations. This will also mean a two-year headache for drug companies as they face questioning and hearings.
Congress has been more aggressive against healthcare corporations under the previous Democratically controlled House and Senate, with provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices starting in 2026. However, Sanders regards this provision as weak and slow, Healthcare Dive reports.
Sanders already laid out several of his points in a January 23 Fox News op-ed, saying that ballooning drug prices negatively impact poor and elderly Americans and that Congress needs the guts to “stop the pharmaceutical industry from getting away with murder.”
“The reality is that if Congress had the courage to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, we could cut the price of prescription drugs in America by at least 50%. How? By preventing the pharmaceutical industry from charging more for prescription drugs in the U.S. than they do in Canada, Britain, Germany, France, and Japan … I will soon be re-introducing legislation in the Senate to do just that,” says Sanders.