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A new federal plan has been announced – that is aimed at lowering prescription drug prices – endorses giving the government sweeping power to directly negotiate the cost of medicines, calling it one of the key steps Congress could take to make drugs “more affordable and equitable” for all Americans.

The plan, which was developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and released on Thursday, mirrors a range of legislative options that both House and Senate lawmakers have floated in recent years.

Those include capping out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D, limiting how quickly pharmaceutical companies can hike prices on existing drugs and banning so-called pay-for-delay agreements aimed at blocking generic competition to brand-name drugs.

Under the HHS plan, the government would directly negotiate prices for drugs in Medicare parts B and D, with those prices also being available to private insurance plans and any employers who want to participate.

House Democrats passed a similar provision as part of a major drug pricing bill in 2019. But it never made it into law, and some in the party’s centrist wing have since vowed to oppose drug price negotiation.

The HHS plan also lays out a series of administration actions that the department could take to fulfill what it identified as three “guiding principles,” making drugs more affordable, improving competition within the industry and encouraging innovation.

Those options included testing value-based payment models and boosting cost-sharing support to certain low-income Medicare beneficiaries. It also suggests that improved data collection from insurers and pharmacy benefit managers could give the government better insight into drug pricing, as well as rebates and out-of-pocket spending on prescription medications.

HHS developed the report in response to an executive order that President Joe Biden issued earlier this year aimed at improving competition across a range of industries, including the drug sector. Executive Order 14036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” identifies a lack of competition as a key driver for problems across economic sectors.

The report states that “Americans spend more than $1,500 per person on prescription drugs and pay prices that are far higher than any comparable nation. Prices for brand name drugs are rising faster than inflation.”