Sarbanes Votes to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a bill to reduce prescription drug prices by empowering Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies and making those negotiated prices available to Medicare beneficiaries and individuals with private insurance. H.R. 3 will also set a new $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for seniors and will expand Medicare benefits to cover dental, hearing and vision for the first time in the program’s history.

“For far too long, wealthy pharmaceutical companies have called the shots in Washington and saddled Americans with out-of-control and unaffordable prescription drug prices,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a prominent member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who helped lead the effort to pass H.R. 3. “That ends today. House Democrats have taken a tremendous step forward in fulling our promise to reduce prescription drug prices for Americans across the country and lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors.”

Congressman Sarbanes continued: “This bill stands as a fitting tribute to Chairman Cummings, who fought his entire public life to lower prescription drug costs and make health care more accessible and more affordable for all Americans. While we deeply miss Elijah, we can continue to keep his memory alive by advancing legislation like H.R. 3 and by working every single day to make life better for our fellow Americans.”

Congressman Sarbanes has long criticized the undue influence of Big Pharma in Washington, which had – for years – hampered efforts to lower prescription drug prices. As Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Congressman Sarbanes authored H.R. 1, the For the People Act – a historic package of reforms to clean up corruption in Washington, expose secret foreign money in our politics, crack down on lobbyists, strengthen election security, protect the right to vote and return power back to the American people with clean, citizen-owned elections. H.R. 1 would fight back against the kind of special-interest influence that stymied efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Congressman Sarbanes has also authored and supported several bills to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans.

Key provisions of H.R. 3 include:

  • Giving Medicare the ability to negotiate directly with drug companies to bring down prescription drug prices.
  • Providing Medicare with powerful new tools to force pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs.
  • Allowing Americans with private insurance to access the lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare.
  • Limiting the maximum price for negotiated drugs, which prevents pharmaceutical companies from charging Americans significantly more money than patients overseas.
  • Creating a new $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Saving taxpayers approximately $500 billion over the next ten years and reinvesting those savings into:
    • Expanding Medicare benefits to cover dental, vision and hearing;
    • Combatting the opioid crisis;
    • Enhancing funding for Community Health Centers; and
    • Researching new cures and treatments.