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Wednesday December 8th, 2021 11:45PM

The Latest: Biden to call for Medicare drug cost negotiating

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Joe Biden's first joint address to Congress (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

The White House says President Joe Biden's speech to Congress will call on lawmakers to lower prescription drug costs by acting this year to empower Medicare to negotiate prices.

A White House official confirmed Biden’s plan on condition of anonymity in advance of the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

Medicare’s prescription drug benefit is delivered through private insurers, and the program is currently barred by law from negotiating prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

As a candidate, Biden promised to change that, but he has yet to submit legislation to Congress. The official says Biden remains committed to working for reduced prescription drug prices.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving ahead with her plan to use expected savings from lower spending on drugs to expand Medicare benefits, capping prescription drug bills for seniors.

But Republicans are solidly opposed to Medicare negotiations, and some Senate Democrats have qualms. It’s unclear if Pelosi’s approach can get through the Senate.

— By AP writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN'S JOINT ADDRESS TO CONGRESS:

Marking his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden will use his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday to pitch a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform the role government plays in American life.

Read more:

— A closer look at Biden’s $1.8 trillion plan for families and education

— What to watch during Biden’s 1st big speech to Congress

— Tim Scott, only Black GOP senator, set to respond to Biden

___

READ MORE:

5:20 p.m.

In his first address to Congress, President Joe Biden will declare that the nation is “turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity.”

The White House released brief excerpts of Biden’s Wednesday night speech, which comes on the eve of his 100th day in office.

Biden is to say that he inherited the White House amid “the worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

Biden will add: “Now — after just 100 days — I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”

Biden plans to use the address to unveil his push for a $1.8 trillion investment in children, families and education that would fundamentally transform the roles the government plays in American life. He is also expected to address his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, as well as call on Congress to pass gun control legislation and reforms to the nation’s immigration system.

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