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Tonko Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Lower Prescription Drug Costs for American Consumers

Legislation directs HHS to incentivize use of lower-cost “biosimilar” health services

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Washington, October 15, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON—Congressman Paul D. Tonko announced today that he is introducing the bipartisan Star Rating for Biosimilars Act (H.R. 4629) with bill co-sponsor Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH). This legislation will direct the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to evaluate Medicare plans based on whether or not cost-saving biosimilars are available to enrollees. Biosimilar drugs are clinically equivalent forms of biologic drugs, similar to generics for standard prescription drugs. Biosimilars on average cost 30 percent less than biologics, which are used to treat some of life’s most serious diseases, including cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. 

"Families in New York and nationwide are paying an unnecessarily high price for modern treatments for cancer, arthritis and many other conditions that can be debilitating and even deadly,” said Congressman Tonko. “Biosimilars are a safe, effective, cost-saving generic option for patients, but certain profitable dynamics in America’s health care system are blocking access to these cost saving alternatives, meaning our patients and their families are forced to pay a higher price for substantially similar medical care. My bill will highlight the existing barriers in current health plans, provide for meaningful transparency where plans fall short, and allow for reform to unlock the billions in savings for America’s patients and taxpayers."

The Star Ratings for Biosimilars Act will require HHS to evaluate Medicare Advantage and Part D plans on how they provide access to biosimilar drugs to help motivate plans to improve performance and therefore implement changes to improve access to biosimilars. Biosimilars still face very low market share and utilization in the U.S. despite the fact they could generate much needed savings for patients and taxpayers. This legislation seeks to realize those savings and further develop the biosimilars market.

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