Biden comes to Vegas to raise money, drum up support for prescription drug proposal

15 March 2023

President Joe Biden landed in Southern Nevada Tuesday evening for a visit where he is expected to promote a plan to reduce prescription drug prices and try to raise $1 million as he builds momentum for an unannounced 2024 re-election campaign, sources said.

The trip was originally set to include him designating Avi Kwa Ame as a national monument,  something he has pledged to do since last November, but that plan changed in the days leading up to the visit. 

Biden kicked off his first day in Las Vegas with an evening reception as part of a three-day fundraising swing across the West Coast. Politico reported that Biden has already held a handful of fundraisers to benefit the Democratic National Committee in Eastern states. 

Biden recently unveiled major policy changes in Medicare infrastructure, including capping insulin prices at $35 a month starting at the beginning of the year, and authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with manufacturers. During a Wednesday event at UNLV’s College of Hospitality, the 80-year old Democrat plans to highlight the Medicare changes, which stem from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Hosts of the Las Vegas fundraising event include prominent local developer Jess Molasky, Thrive Cannabis Dispensary chain owner Phillip Peckman, and Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun. 

The visit comes days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Las Vegas to promote his new book at an event at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country bar in a stop that was unofficially viewed as a precursor to his potential 2024 run for president. Although Biden is not expected to face a fierce primary challenge, only one prominent Democrat, author, spiritual adviser and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has announced a bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee for the 2024 election. 

This is Biden’s first trip to Nevada in three years. The president was absent from Silver State during the 2022 election season, although former President Barack Obama did take part in a November rally as part of a last-minute push for Democratic candidates. Last August, Vice President Kamala Harris came out to Las Vegas to discuss with state legislators and advocates on efforts to protect access to abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. 

Biden wants to continue lowering prescription drug costs further by setting a $2,000-a-year cap by 2025 for Medicare patients who use many or very expensive drugs. The amount of the cap would rise based on specific indexes. 

His budget for fiscal year 2024 details how he plans to build on the reforms made through the Inflation Reduction Act. He proposes expanding Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices, requiring drug manufacturers to pay rebates for commercial drug sales and enabling the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate additional, supplemental Medicaid drug rebates on behalf of states. 

Biden’s budget is mostly symbolic because it’s not likely to pass in the Republican-controlled House, and instead serves more as a source for political talking points and an opportunity to draw a contrast with Republicans. 

Biden’s approval rate remains low in Nevada. According to a recent Nevada Independent / OH Predictive Insights poll, 42 percent of Nevada voters would choose DeSantis and 36 percent would commit to Biden if the two end up in a matchup, and more Nevadans would opt for former President Donald Trump over Biden, but by a smaller margin.

Biden’s ratings have largely remained underwater since the 2021 removal of U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.  

Health care cooperation, calls to end gun violence

Biden’s efforts are already having some success. Since last week, two major insulin makers announced plans to slash some of their U.S. insulin prices later this year and next. 

Other policies kicked off through the Inflation Reduction Act include requiring that certain adult vaccines such as the shingles and tetanus vaccines be covered at no cost for those on Medicare. It also requires prescription drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise their prices faster than inflation, as was the case last year with 1,200 prescription drugs, according officials with the Biden administration. 

Officials estimated that 3.4 million people with Medicare would have saved an average of nearly $70 per person in 2021 had the Inflation Reduction Act already been in effect. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to release guidance on how to negotiate prescription drug prices while Medicare releases the names of the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation, administration officials told reporters during a Tuesday Zoom call. 

Also coming on Wednesday are a list of drugs for which Medicare beneficiaries will pay lower coinsurance starting April 1. According to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the list will be updated quarterly.

Before arriving in Vegas, Biden visited Monterey Park in Southern California, the site of a mass shooting in January during a Lunar New Year celebration where 11 people were killed and nine others were injured. Before his remarks honoring the victims, Biden issued a new executive order “with the goal of increasing the number of background checks conducted before firearm sales, moving the U.S. as close to universal background checks as possible without additional legislation,” according to the White House. 

It also directs the Federal Trade Commission to issue a report on how gun manufacturers market their products to minors as well as asks Biden’s cabinet to explore how the federal government can better support communities affected by mass shootings. 

There have been 110 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year, with CNN reporting that the numbers have escalated since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

“I won’t stop fighting to end the scourge of gun violence,” Biden said in a Tuesday tweet

The post Biden comes to Vegas to raise money, drum up support for prescription drug proposal appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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