Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs is Vital for All Americans 

October 19, 2019

Stories have poured in from all across America about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and the devastating impact these costs are having on our families and communities. 

Individuals have shared their experiences splitting prescription doses against their doctor’s orders; one patient described intentionally letting their blood sugar crash so they could go to the hospital and receive a few free doses of insulin. Tragically, these stories are far from isolated.

  • Drug prices in the U.S. are around four times that of other countries
  • 25 percent of Americans fear that they will not be able to afford the prescription drugs they need
  • Three in 10 Americans have reported that they did not take a medication as prescribed due to the high cost 

These facts are unacceptable. 

During this first week back after the October district work period, my colleagues and I got right to work advancing legislation that will make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans. 

Earlier this week, I joined with Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs to introduce H.R. 4629: Star Rating for Biosimilars Act. This bill 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.

I worked with my friend Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire to introduce H.R.4661: Advancing Enrollment and Reducing Drug Costs Act, a bill that would simplify the process for low-income seniors to receive prescription drug subsidies under the Medicare Part D program.

  • Subsidies for low-income seniors under Medicare Part D were created to help qualifying seniors afford their prescription drugs, but current law does not automatically enroll eligible seniors.
  • Because of this, thousands a left struggling to pay for prescriptions, unaware they are eligible for assistance.
  • H.R. 4661 would provide automatic qualification for Medicaid beneficiaries for premium and cost-sharing subsidies under Medicare Part D.

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a priority for our House Majority, which is why we are advancing H.R. 3: Lower Drugs Costs Now Act. This comprehensive bill would authorize Medicare to negotiate drug prices and put a $2,000 per-person limit on out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions for every American.

  • Medicare price negotiation would save the program an estimated $345 billion
  • U.S. households would save a combined total of nearly $160 billion
  • Private businesses would save some $46 billion under our legislation
This is far from our first attempt to bring down prescription drug prices for all Americans.
  • Earlier this year, the House passed several other bills targeted at lowering prescription drugs, including H.R.965: CREATES Act that would promote competition in the market for drugs and biological products by establishing a smoother process for lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs to enter the market. 
  • In addition, H.R.1499: Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act would prevent the “Pay-to-Delay” practice of brand-name drug manufacturers from paying generic drug manufacturers in order to postpone their entry into the market.

Both of these bills are now sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. 

Prescription drugs have become an unmanageable burden for millions of Americans including many seniors and families across our Capital Region. We need the Senate to stop their stonewalling, and we need President Trump to make good on his promise to help fix this problem.

Until then, my colleagues and I will continue to work and to push for these needed reforms. 

Thank you to all who have shared stories of how high drug prices have affected your lives, and those who continue to share in our push for meaningful and lasting change. Your words fill our hearts and our voices as we continue working for you in Washington.

As always, thank you for reading.

Your friend,