Sep 26, 2019

House E&C Health Subcommittee Reiterate Need for Action to Hold Big Pharma Accountable, Deliver Relief for American Patients

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing Wednesday on the drug pricing package put forward by Speaker Pelosi earlier this week. During the hearing, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed bipartisan agreement for several reforms in the plan, including:

  • Measures to reform the Medicare Part D program by giving Big Pharma more skin in the game;
  • A cap on out-of-pocket costs for Part D beneficiaries;
  • And a provision to keep price hikes covered by taxpayers below the rate of inflation.

These measures are also included in a drug pricing plan introduced by Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Wyden (D-OR) and advanced by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

These bipartisan solutions would represent an important first step toward holding Big Pharma accountable and lowering prescription drug prices for Americans.

Here is what lawmakers at the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing had to say:

Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member: “There is no debate about the fact that Republicans and Democrats want to work together to lower drug costs for consumers … Congress needs to work together with President Trump … There’s more we can do together.”

Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC): “I’ve heard so many people say that they cannot afford their prescription medication, both in Medicare and in private insurance and that’s just not acceptable. I have a lot of industry in my district and I believe that innovation should absolutely be encouraged and rewarded but clearly the American people need some relief. It’s time for Congress to act in order to ensure the American people have access to and can afford the treatment they need.”

Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX): “Going forward we should be able to continue a bipartisan dialogue. I support bipartisan solutions toward lowering drug prices for American patients. I appreciate that in the past we’ve had bipartisan conversations about modernizing Medicare Part D in this Congress, including capping beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs. I would like to continue those conversations and welcome committee activity that enables productive discussions.”

Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE): “Whether it’s shopping in the grocery store, or taking a tour of a small business, or even a constituent who approached me who is need of life saving cancer drugs but can’t afford them, this is the number one issue that I hear about in my state. Specifically, the cost of prescription drugs. Today, we really have an opportunity to take critical steps towards lowering drug costs in a way that patients will feel directly. They will feel it in their pocketbooks.”

Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT): “The cost of prescription drugs are too high and Montanans are struggling to pay for the medications they need. Republicans and Democrats on this committee have been working together across party lines to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, increase transparency, create better access to generics, and increase permitting of biosimilars. We’ve worked on and passed these bills that will save billions of dollars for patients.”

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA): “There are many reasons to take this important work, none more important than the everyday stories from patients across the country dealing with high drug costs, including seniors like Cynthia Stockton from Sacramento. A few years ago, she developed seizures and discovered a brain tumor. She’s on Medicare and without prescription drugs, her body will shut down and she would die. The prescriptions she takes to treat her muscle spasms and seizures and boost her mental health cost a significant amount of money for someone on a fixed income. Seniors like Cynthia deserve better. They deserve affordable medication and it underscores why we must get this right. I look forward to working to make that a reality.”

The Campaign for Sustainable Drug Pricing (CSRxP) applauds lawmakers for their continued commitment to bipartisan action to tackle the crisis caused rising prescription drug prices. Members of Congress must continue to work across party lines to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunity to lower prescription drug prices by passing market-based solutions that will hold brand name drug makers accountable.