Eighty-three is a pretty impressive number. That's the percentage of Americans who favor empowering the federal government to negotiate prices with drugmakers. Even 7 of 10 Republicans agree, according to polling from KFF, a respected source of health news and statistics.

Those drug companies, by weaponizing huge war chests and armies of lobbyists, have long defied public opinion and thwarted every effort to give Washington, D.C., bargaining authority. But now, hopefully, that's about to change.

A bill that's poised to pass Congress would signal small but significant shifts in the balance of power. For the first time, the Feds would be free to engage in price talks over a gradually expanding menu of medicines. The measure would also limit an individual's drug costs under Medicare to $2,000 per year, mandate pharmaceutical companies to pay rebates if their price increases outpace inflation and provide free vaccines for seniors.

Steven Roberts teaches politics and journalism at George Washington University. He can be contacted by email at stevecokie@gmail.com.

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