Sarbanes, Schakowsky, Dingell Endorse H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) in releasing a statement in support of H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, in advance of the Committee’s markup of the bill:

“Today, we are announcing our endorsement of H.R. 3, a pillar of the Democratic Caucus’ For the People agenda and a bill that will significantly lower drug prices for patients who need them to survive.

“With H.R. 3, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is boldly leading the charge to finally allow for the negotiation of prescription drug prices, which we have been trying to do since 2003 when Big Pharma tucked a prohibition on federal drug price negotiation into the bill that created Medicare Part D.

“Negotiation is the most effective tool to lower drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable for their price gouging. H.R. 3 finally ends the ban on Medicare’s ability to directly negotiate with drug companies and ensures that seniors never lose access to the prescriptions they need. These lower, negotiated prices will be available to not just Medicare beneficiaries, but also people with commercial insurance.

“Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that negotiation within just Medicare Part D would save the federal government $345 billion over seven years. This is an incredible sum that we can use to finally offer vision, dental and hearing coverage to seniors; to strengthen the Medicare program’s coverage of necessary procedures and medical equipment; to improve Part D for low-income beneficiaries; and to spur pharmaceutical innovation that can’t be gamed by Big Pharma.

“Though we and our Democratic colleagues have long advocated for broad negotiation authority, our Caucus has for the first time put forth a proposal that will be implemented with a significant penalty for noncompliance. CBO reported that the excise tax H.R. 3 would levy on pharmaceutical manufacturers who do not comply with negotiation is the “stick” that reaps billions of dollars in federal savings. Big Pharma will be compelled to stay at the negotiating table, stop their price gouging, and make their drugs more affordable for the patients who need them.

“H.R. 3 also creates a new, $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on Medicare prescription drug costs and imposes a new inflation rebate for the thousands of drugs that Medicare beneficiaries rely on through Parts B and D. If drug manufacturers raise the prices of these drugs above the rate of inflation, they must either lower their prices or repay the increase above inflation to the United States Treasury—a rebate that will help all consumers, even beyond Medicare.

“Finally, through working with our Committee Chairman, Frank Pallone Jr., we were able to secure a series of improvements to the introduced bill that will strengthen its provisions and ensure it takes a progressive approach to drug price negotiation.

“Though H.R. 3 is transformative, one piece of legislation cannot ensure that every individual has equitable access to affordable medication. We will not stop fighting for that reality after this bill passes through our Committee and on the House floor. But H.R. 3 is a historic step forward, and we are proud to support it.”