The Democratic and Republican leaders of three House committees reintroduced separate legislation aimed at reducing prescription drug costs.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), and Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) reintroduced the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) on April 22. The House passed a similar version of H.R. 3 in the last Congress [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 12, 2019].
Among other provisions, the legislation would:
- Allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to negotiate prescription drug prices in Medicare and make those negotiated prices available to commercial health insurance plans.
- Cap Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs at $2,000 per year.
- Require drug manufacturers to pay a rebate to the federal government if they increase prices faster than inflation.
- Reinvest the savings into the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration to support the research and development of new treatments.
Upon release of the bill, Chairmen Pallone, Neal, and Scott issued a joint press release, stating, “This legislation will dramatically rein in costs and finally empower the federal government to negotiate fair prescription drug prices, decrease consumers’ out-of-pocket costs, and reduce Medicare and private health insurance premiums.”
On April 21, Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) reintroduced the Lower Costs, More Cures Act (H.R. 19). In a letter asking House Republicans to support H.R. 19, the Republican leaders criticized H.R. 3, stating, “It would lead to fewer cures and lifesaving medical breakthroughs—especially for families most in need of hope. If H.R. 3 were the law of the land before the pandemic, it would have hindered America’s private sector medical innovators from stepping up to help us beat the virus.”
Some of the policies included in the Lower Costs, More Cures Act would:
- Provide an out-of-pocket cap for seniors in Medicare Part D.
- Cap the cost of insulin for seniors in Medicare Part D.
- Create more transparency around drug prices for patients.
- Reduce the cost of cancer treatment and other drug administration for Medicare beneficiaries.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing to further examine legislation to reduce prescription drug prices on May 4.