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  • Washington Highlights

    House Subcommittee Advances Drug Pricing, Health Insurance Bills

    Jason Kleinman, Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations

    The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee March 27 held a markup to review and advance a series of bills related to both prescription drug prices and health insurance coverage.

    The markup followed a March 13 legislative hearing that the subcommittee held to review a variety bills aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs and reducing barriers to market competition [see Washington Highlights, March 15].

    The subcommittee approved all six of the drug pricing bills it reviewed. The bills include:

    • The Payment Commission Data Act of 2019 (H.R. 1787) to provide the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission with access to drug pricing and rebate data under Medicare Parts B and D;
    • The Blocking Act of 2019 (H.R. 938) to allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discourage parking of 180-day exclusivity by a first generic applicant;
    • The Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 (H.R. 1520) to codify publication of approved biological products in the Purple Book;
    • The Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 1503) to require manufacturers to share complete and timely information with the FDA and ensure that patents listed in the Orange Book are relevant to the approved drug product;
    • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019 (H.R. 1499) to make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep a generic equivalent off the market; and
    • The CREATES Act of 2019 (H.R. 965) to establish a process by which generic manufacturers could request that the FDA authorize them to obtain sufficient quantities of samples for testing.

    The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, of which the AAMC is a member, applauded the subcommittee for advancing a number of bipartisan drug pricing measures and noted, “The momentum to pass concrete measures that will curb the crisis of rising prescription drug costs has never been greater. Lawmakers must capitalize on this moment to deliver for American patients and consumers by advancing and passing these key bills.”

    The subcommittee also approved six bills related to health insurance coverage. Many of the bills are included in a larger package that House Democratic leadership unveiled earlier in the week to address health insurance coverage and pre-existing coverage [see related story]. The bills advanced by the subcommittee include:

    • The State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges 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 (H.R. 1386) to fund the navigator program for the federally facilitated marketplace at $100 million per year;
    • 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;
    • The More Health Education Act of 2019 (H.R. 987) to require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct consumer outreach and enrollment educational activities for the ACA marketplaces;
    • 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 don’t meet requirements under the ACA; and
    • H.R. 1010, a bill to overturn the final rule on short-term limited duration health insurance plans.

    All of the bills will now advance to the full committee for consideration.