aamc.org does not support this web browser.
  • Washington Highlights

    House Committee Advances Bills on Drug Pricing and Health Coverage

    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee April 3 held a markup to review and advance a series of bills related to prescription drug pricing and health insurance coverage. All 12 bills were previously approved by the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee [see Washington Highlights, March 29].

    In his opening comments, Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced that Republicans and Democrats on the committee had come to an agreement on two of the drug pricing bills that prevent generic drugs from coming to the market — the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act of 2019 (CREATES Act, H.R. 965) and the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act (H.R. 1499) — and were working toward an agreement on a third that would ensure that the Orange Book is accurate and up-to-date (H.R. 1503).

    Ultimately, the committee unanimously approved these three bills, along with three other measures. The additional bills would discourage parking of 180-day exclusivity by a first generic applicant that is blocking the approval of other generics (H.R. 938), provide the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) with access to drug pricing and rebate data (H.R. 1781), and codify publication of the patents of approved biological products in the Purple Book (H.R. 1520).

    Following the committee’s passage of these bipartisan drug pricing bills, Ranking Member Walden and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Burgess (R-Texas), MD, issued a joint statement noting, “This will make a real difference for many Americans and this just goes to show that when we work together, we can achieve real results. We look forward to advancing these policies to the full House of Representatives for consideration so we can ensure patients get the earliest possible access to more affordable prescription drugs.”

    Additionally, the committee advanced six bills related to health insurance coverage. The bills, each of which passed along party lines, include:

    • The State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges Act (SAVE Act, H.R. 1385) to provide states with $200 billion in federal funds to establish state-based marketplaces;
    • The Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity Act of 2019 (ENROLL Act, H.R. 1386) to fund the navigator program for the federally facilitated marketplace at $100 million per year;
    • The Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower Health Education Act of 2019 (MORE Act, H.R. 987) to require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct consumer outreach and enrollment educational activities for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces;
    • H.R. 1010, a bill to overturn the final rule on short-term limited duration health insurance plans;
    • The Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019 (H.R. 986) to prohibit states from implementing guidance on state waivers to allow plans that do not meet requirements under the ACA; and
    • The State Health Care Premiums Reduction Act (H.R. 1425) to provide $10 billion annually to states with the option for states to establish a state reinsurance program or to provide financial assistance for individuals enrolled in qualified health plans by reducing their out-of-pocket costs.

    Following the markup, Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) stated these bills “will lower health care costs, expand access to care, and protect people with pre-existing conditions by reversing the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. I look forward to bringing these bills to the House Floor in the near future.”

    All 12 bills will now advance to the full House for a vote.