House Drug Pricing Hearing Goes Off Script
Most Congressional hearings are morality plays designed to reach a predetermined outcome. It wasn’t hard to predict how the second hearing on drug pricing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was supposed to go. If the title, “HIV Prevention Drug: Billions in Corporate Profits after Millions in Taxpayer Investments” wasn’t enough of a clue, when Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said it was because of the “phenomenal leadership” of freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that the hearing was being held, any doubts evaporated. In an extraordinary gesture of deference for a new Member of Congress, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was recognized for an opening statement before senior members of the committee. However, because of two differences in this hearing from its predecessor things didn’t quite go as planned. This time, the Committee invited both sides to appear, not just the critics; and one member dared to challenge its underlying premise, leading to an electrifying exchange with the Chairman. We’ll examine that shortly.