December 14, 2019
Each and every day, I work to deliver the promises I made when I took office and to enact meaningful legislation that will benefit our Capital Region and beyond. This week, our House of Representatives achieved a major accomplishment in addressing a fundamental promise made to the American people to lower the rising costs of prescription drugs.
In a vote on Thursday, the House passed H.R. 3, The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would empower Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug companies and make these lower costs available to all insured Americans. The lower prices of these prescription drugs are estimated to result in savings of about $456 billion in spending over about ten years. These savings would be reinvested into the Medicare program, in addition to billions of dollars in new investments to protect our public health.
The savings generated as a result of H.R. 3 would allow for significant reinvestment, such as:
- Creating a $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug spending for Medicare beneficiaries;
- Including dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare for the first time;
- Investing $10 billion in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help develop new cures and treatments; and
- Investing $10 billion in our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic, helping to fund more prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
For months, I fought for two pieces of legislation to be added to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act and I am proud to say that both amendments were included in the bill. H.R. 4629, Star Rating for Biosimilars Act, would evaluate Medicare plans to make cost-effective, genetically similar drugs to standard prescriptions, known as biosimilars, available to enrollees. H.R. 4661, the Advancing Enrollment and Reducing Drug Costs Act, would expand low-income senior’s access to prescription drugs by automatically enrolling individuals who aged out of Medicaid Expansion and into Medicare low-income subsidies.
For years, we have heard devastating accounts from individuals who have been forced to choose between putting food on the table and buying the prescription drugs they need to become and remain healthy. This legislation works to ensure that choice never has to be made.
In New York’s 20th District, 112,897 people are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan. 472,331 people are enrolled in private health insurance. Every one of them stands to gain from the passage of H.R. 3.
The Lower Drug Costs Now Act will cut treatment prices for numerous Americans, including the more than 30 million people living with diabetes,1,633,786 of whom live in New York. Under H.R. 3, the average total cost of the insulin NovoLOG Flexpen could be cut by 76 percent, from about $19,800 to $4,800 per year, and other commonly used insulins could cost as little as $400 per year.
Expansion of Medicare coverage for dental, vision and hearing services will benefit hundreds of thousands across our district.
- About 99% of beneficiaries (142,300 people) stand to gain from adding a dental benefit.
- About 79% of beneficiaries (113,800 people) stand to gain from adding a vision benefit.
- About 92% of beneficiaries (132,900 people) stand to gain from adding a hearing benefit.
The incredible benefits as a result of H.R. 3 will be felt throughout Capital Region and our nation. This legislation will now move to the United States Senate. Regardless of party lines, lowering the skyrocketing cost of drugs has been the mission of so many. We cannot allow the pharmaceutical industry to continue to raise prices at the expense of the American people.
I thank all who have shared their stories on the impact high drug costs have had on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I urge you to continue to raise your voices and incite meaningful and lasting change in our country.
As always, thank you for reading.