Biden aims to resurrect drug pricing reforms in stalled $1.75T Build Back Better Act

President Joe Biden sought to resurrect key drug pricing reforms such as giving Medicare drug price negotiations that have languished in the Senate for months.

Biden gave a speech Thursday at Germanna Community College in Culpeper, Virginia, detailing the goals of the Build Back Better Act, which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate where Democrats maintain a tenuous grasp on power.

The president detailed several policies that he said are vital to keep in the law, such as capping price hikes on Medicare Part D drugs beyond the cost of inflation.

“We will hold drug companies accountable for absurd price increases,” Biden said, adding that drug companies that raise prices above inflation could face steep taxes. “We are saying to drug companies you are finally going to become accountable when you raise prices on the American people.”

He also touted a plan to cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 a year and to cap insulin copays at $35 for those on Medicare.

But Biden also doubled down on a controversial proposal to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, a key Democratic priority.

RELATED: Kaiser Family Foundation: Public not buying pharma's arguments over drug price reforms

The Build Back Better Act which passed the House was forced to scale back a policy to have Medicare negotiate on certain drug prices. The final legislation passed by the House would let Medicare negotiate on a narrow subset of drugs in Medicare Parts B and D.

Biden did not say whether he backed the scaled-back approach, but emphasized the need for negotiation authority.

“What we are proposing is we negotiate fair prices, one that reflects the cost of research and development … but is still affordable,” he said.

The policy generated significant pushback from the pharmaceutical industry which charged it would chill venture investment into new treatments.

Biden added that he is “close” to getting the Build Back Better Act through the Senate.

However, there has not been any meaningful progress since centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, announced his opposition to the $1.7 trillion package in December. Some lawmakers have hinted at potentially breaking up parts of the package and passing the pieces that will get enough support in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 50-50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

Manchin, however, has been amenable to drug price reforms including giving Medicare price negotiation authority.