December 12, 2019

New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force Statement on Drug Pricing Legislation

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which aims to lower prescription drug prices to level the playing field for American patients and taxpayers. 

Specifically, this bill:

  • Ensure seniors can get a fair price for the prescriptions they need by granting the Secretary of HHS the ability to directly negotiate drug prices for Medicare, capping Part-D out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 and restructuring catastrophic coverage and creating penalties for price hikes that outpace inflation.
  • Creates requirements and incentives to expand these protections and lower prices to the entire market, including private insurance, group health insurance, the VA, and more, to give health and financial security to all Americans.
  • Ensures that the global market pays its fair share for research and development, putting U.S. prices on par with other countries where patients are often charged less for the same prescriptions.
  • Reinvests billions in innovation and the search for new cures and treatments at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and through other means.

“I’ve spoken with far too many seniors and families in our region who are grappling with the high costs of prescription drugs. When you talk with someone who is having to skip doses or having to cut their pills in half because the costs are simply too high, it has a way of sticking with you,” said New Democrat Coalition Chair Derek Kilmer. “The New Democrat Coalition supports efforts to lower drug prices, bring more options to market, and create transparency. I’m proud that NDC Members voted on this bill which aims to level the playing field for patients, ensuring they have access to less expensive medications and giving health and financial security to all Americans.”

“The historic vote today, allowing the HHS Secretary to negotiate drug prices on the behalf of the American people is a promise kept to working families struggling to afford the rising costs of prescription drugs,” said New Democrat Coalition Vice Chair Suzan DelBene. “This bill is an important step towards ensuring diabetics will no longer have to ration insulin and seniors won’t have to worry about endless prescription drug bills. I’m pleased with the work the NDC has done on this issue and urge the Senate to pass this critical legislation to reduce drug costs for all Americans.”

“As a doctor, I’ve cared for patients who have struggled to pay for the high costs of prescription drugs,” said New Democrat Coalition Leadership Member Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. “Today’s vote in an important step towards bringing down the price of prescription drugs for Americans across the country. No one should have to forgo medication because they can’t afford it.” 

“The number one issue I hear about from Minnesota families is the outrageous cost of prescription drugs,” said New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Angie Craig. “That’s unacceptable, and we have the ability to change that by putting people’s lives above politics advancing this bill to make many life-saving medicines more affordable and give Medicare the ability to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.”

“The Lower Drug Costs Now Act will finally empower Medicare to negotiate the prices for prescription drugs,” said New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Kurt Schrader. “It is high time that our struggling seniors are given the right to negotiate drug costs like we have in commercial plans, the VA, DOD and Medicaid. Price negotiation is a free market principle that our country embraces in almost every other aspect of life. I am proud to be a strong supporter of this legislation. However, as we continue to have conversations around expanding access to health care and lowering the costs of prescription drugs, we must be mindful of the need to address the risings costs across the health care continuum. Medicare per capita spending is expected to grow at an average rate annual rate of 5.1%. The savings from the drug negotiation portion of this bill should be put towards Medicare solvency.”

“I am excited to support H.R. 3, which will finally allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and bring relief to millions of Americans,” said New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force Co-Chair Kim Schrier. “As a doctor and patient with Type 1 Diabetes, I know firsthand how the prices of prescription medication have increased in the last two decades. The price of my insulin is now seven times what it was in 2000, $300 a bottle! This bill should be signed into law as soon as possible. American families can’t wait any longer.”

“Today we took a much needed step toward lowering the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans. It is unacceptable that families are burdened with the astronomical costs of life-saving treatments when faced with cancer diagnoses—or diabetes, asthma, HIV, multiple sclerosis, or any other diagnoses. Today was a major step in the campaign to lower the cost of medications, and we must continue efforts to hold drug companies accountable,” said New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task-Force Co-Chair Greg Stanton (AZ-09).

H.R. 3 included dozens of New Dem-led bills and provisions that reinvest savings in biomedical innovation, expand Medicare services for seniors, help combat opioid addiction, increase access to healthcare in underserved areas, and countless over provisions. View all the New Dem-led provisions that were included.

This Congress, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) is focused on durable solutions that will strengthen our health care system, increase access, and improve affordability. Earlier this Congress, the NDC endorsed a package of bipartisan prescription drug bills and has advocated to move these and other measures that can be approved by the Senate and become law. New Dems also urged House leaders to prioritize strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and continue the path toward affordable universal coverage. The NDC has endorsed and supported a number of bills to advance this effort and looks forward to building on this work through the legislative progress of our Members.