Lost cures and innovation, too high a price for Democrats’ drug pricing proposals
Democrats and Republicans alike can agree on one thing: prescription drug prices are unacceptably high. Predictably, however, we cannot seem to agree on a proper solution to this urgent issue.
The Trump administration has, thankfully, kickstarted efforts and approved record numbers of generic drugs while simultaneously lowering overall prescription drug prices by 13 percent. It is our responsibility in Congress to keep this momentum going and establish permanent fixes to the current pharmaceutical pricing standards. Despite the efforts of Republicans to make bipartisan progress to reform the prescription drug standards, our Democrat colleagues refuse to collaborate.
Unfortunately, the so-called “solutions” my Democrat colleagues have presented are inadequate and misguided. Their primary proposal, H.R. 3, The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, is not only an egregious government overreach, but would negatively affect seniors by expanding entitlements and disregarding the Medicare trust fund. This could risk the ultimate failure of the entire program and almost certainly increase out-of-pocket costs for our seniors.
Perhaps most concerningly, it would strangle innovation among the pharmaceutical industry and therefore prevent potential cures. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that H.R. 3 would likely result in 38 fewer cures over the next 20 years. For an American waiting for a cure to save their life, this is unacceptable.
That is why the Republicans presented H.R.19, the Lower Cost, More Cures Act, a common-sense and inclusive drug pricing proposal. H.R. 19 sought to incentivize competition in the market to drive prices down and expand market access for more generic and biosimilar drugs. Despite the fact that each of the individual provisions included within H.R.19 were originally bipartisan bills, this legislation has not been spared the classic politicization of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and has failed to receive proper consideration on the House floor.
Specifically, this legislation contained more than 40 bipartisan provisions that would have been able to go to the president’s desk immediately to be signed into law and help our families. For drug pricing, it provided language for increased pricing transparency, public disclosure of drug discounts, a study of pharmaceutical supply chain intermediaries and merger activity and makes prescription drug marketing sample information reports available to individuals.
With over 3.5 million of my fellow Floridians enrolled in some form of Medicare prescription drug coverage, these issues have always been a top priority. For Medicare Part B, H.R. 19 would have provided increased pricing transparency by expanding a Medicare online tool to allow beneficiaries to compare costs. Additionally, the legislation would have also created maximum add-on payments for certain drugs and biologicals to help reduce out-of-pocket costs.
My constituents and countless Americans who depend on life-saving prescriptions everyday deserve better than the inadequate solutions that my Democrat colleagues have presented. While I was honored to join President Trump in Ft. Myers earlier this month to celebrate the progress we have already made in lowering drug costs, increasing innovation, and fighting this pandemic, there is clearly more work to be done. Florida’s families and seniors deserve more than the petty political disputes from my Democrat colleagues — they deserve swift action to build on the administration’s actions to provide affordable prescription drugs.
Greg Steube represents Florida’s 17th District and is a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee and the Judiciary Committee.