The White House signals a fight on high drug prices

On Monday, the Obama administration proposed taking a major step towards bringing prices down for expensive specialty medications.

In its budget, the White House calls for Medicare's prescription drug program to negotiate on prices for "high-cost drugs" and biologics, a complex and expensive class of drugs that is just starting to get competition from generics in the United States. "The administration is is deeply concerned with the rapidly growing prices of specialty and brand name drugs," the budget reads.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and state Medicaid programs get mandated discounts on these drugs, but Medicare was forbidden by the 2003 law creating its prescription drug program to negotiate on price. For years, liberals have been pushing to give Medicare that authority, which would make the United States more like the rest of the world.

It's not clear how hard the administration will fight for this idea, but you can add this to the list of budget requests that probably aren't going anywhere. Drug companies and Republican lawmakers have regularly pushed back against the idea of price controls in Medicare Part D.

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