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  • Washington Highlights

    House Passes Sweeping Drug Pricing Bill with Reinvestment in Research, GME

    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    The House of Representatives Dec. 12 passed HR 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, by a vote of 230-192. The bill would grant the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary the authority to negotiate prescription drug prices and caps yearly out-of-pocket costs through Medicare Part D in an effort to drive down the high costs of prescription drugs [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 20, Oct. 25].

    The bill also includes details on the reinvestment of savings generated from the legislation, including through several provisions to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health by $10 billion over 10 years. One provision includes a modified version of HR 4667, the Biomedical Innovation Expansion Act, to extend funding for four research programs established in 21st Century Cures as well as two new initiatives [see Washington Highlights, Oct. 18]. HR 3 also includes $2.5 billion in funding for a new clinical trials pilot to support phase II and III clinical trials of “high need cures.”

    During the floor proceedings, the House passed 11 of 12 proposed amendments, including an amendment from Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ill.) which would create a grant program at HHS for hospitals located in rural and medical underserved areas to provide funding for the startup costs for establishing a new graduate medical education (GME) program or a partnership with a hospital with an existing program. The amendment was agreed to by a vote of 351-73.

    Following the passage of HR 3, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued a press release applauding the House for its work toward assisting Americans who continue to struggle to afford prescription drugs. Dr. Skorton continued, “We urge congressional leaders and all members of Congress to work together to develop a bipartisan solution to high prescription drug prices for the benefit of our patients.”

    The Coalition for Sustainable Rx Prices, of which the AAMC is a member, issued a separate press statement from Executive Director Lauren Aronson commending the House on its efforts and encouraging the Senate to pass bipartisan drug pricing reform measures as presented by the Senate Finance Committee in the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (S. 2543) [see related story ].