ATTLEBORO — The area’s freshman member of Congress is being called out by a progressive group citing him for being opposed to legislation designed to curb prescription drug costs.
A mobile billboard was parked for a part of Tuesday next to the Bronson Building in the center of Attleboro where U.S. Rep Jake Auchincloss, D-Newton, has a district office, accusing the congressman of “blocking efforts to lower your drug prices,” and urges people to call his office and “tell Rep. Auchincloss to get out of the way.”
A representative from the congressman’s office called the billboard and its message “a political stunt aimed at raising money.”
The group that had the truck park downtown, Social Security Works, said that Auchincloss and several other centrist Democrats were opposed to H.R. 3, a bill supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi among others.
Pelosi and other party leaders have said they want to attach their drug pricing bill President Joe Biden’s tax and jobs package, according to published reports. The legislation would empower the government to negotiate with drug companies to lower the price of certain medicines compared to their costs other countries.
Earlier this month, Auchincloss told Bloomberg News Service that he’s working on a drug pricing bill to compete with H.R. 3. He said the drug price negotiation bill doesn’t do enough to lower what seniors pay each month for medicines, or allow them to spread out those costs over the year.
“If we’re going to do drug pricing legislation, we’ve got to lower prescription drug prices for senior citizens,” he said in an interview.
“At the end of day, what I want is to improve the drug pricing legislation that Democrats are putting forward,” he told the business news outlet. “We have an opportunity to deliver great progress for lowering out of pocket costs for cures and for jobs, and I want to make sure we take full advantage of this moment.”
He and nine other members of Congress signed on to a letter earlier this month urging a more modest version of the House bill.
“There’s nothing ‘moderate’ or ‘bipartisan’ about blocking plans to lower drug prices,” said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works. “In fact, lowering drug prices is incredibly popular with voters across the political spectrum. Auchincloss is a shill for pharmaceutical corporations, and we’re making sure his constituents know it.”
He said the billboard will be moving around the congressman’s district for the rest of the week.
Matt Corridoni, spokesman for Auchincloss, released a statement Tuesday night saying the congressman supports empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
“He has spoken out about the need for Democrats to pass a drug pricing bill this year and is working hard to ensure the proposed legislation does more to lower out of pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries and create the next generation of cures,” Corridoni said. “Our constituents will not be fooled by lies or beltway shenanigans. Congressman Auchincloss will continue working to lower prescription drug costs and will not be distracted by false accusations from bad faith actors desperate for attention.”
Lawson, in a brief phone interview, said Auchincloss “is out of step with his party and his constituents,” and said his claims of coming up with a better plan “are false on their face.” He said some of the other Congress members who signed the letter have expressed a willingness to work on a compromise, however.