WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) today voted to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, legislation which would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and pass the same savings on to consumers on private insurance. The bill would cut costs for life-saving medications like insulin up to 75 percent and save Medicare $5 billion over ten years according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. The bill would also cap out-of-pocket prescription costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 and allow the program to add coverage for vision, dental, and hearing services to the program.
“If you have a parent with diabetes or a kid with asthma, we’re going to save you literally thousands of dollars a year with this bill,” said Rep. Harder. “Tens of thousands of people in the Valley will have more money in their pockets and won’t have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine – unless Mitch McConnell decides to kill this bill. If he does, he won’t just be the grim reaper of important legislation, he’ll also be a literal grim reaper for thousands of Americans who can’t afford their medicine.”
In September, after hearing from dozens of constituents about the cost of insulin, Rep. Harder released a study concluding that Central Valley residents pay 21 times more for insulin than people in Australia. The report also noted that businesses could charge substantially less for the drug and still turn a profit.
The Lower Drug Costs Now Act would empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the cost of up to 250 drugs per year for Medicare beneficiaries. It would also create a new pricing index based on negotiated drugs based on the amount people in other countries pay for identical drugs, and expand coverage for dental, vision, and hearing services for Medicare beneficiaries. Although critics have claimed that the bill would limit innovation, the legislation invests $2 billion in innovation at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and an additional $10 billion specifically targeted at combating the opioid epidemic.
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