Washington, D.C. — Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke before the Rules Committee during a hearing on H.R. 6833, an attempt by Democrats to revive socialist drug pricing in the tax and spending spree and give Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) a pass to keep hiding savings from patients.
Leader Rodgers urged Congress to take action on H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, to lower the cost of prescription drugs across the board, not just for insulin.
Excerpts and highlights from her prepared remarks:
LOWERING THE COST FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
“First, I want to be very clear. We all share the goal of lowering the cost of insulin.
“The bill before this committee today is not the right answer and it is a missed opportunity for thoughtful, strong, bipartisan work that delivers results — results that could mean real savings for people paying for all kinds of prescription drugs, not just insulin.
SOCIALIST PRICE CONTROLS
“Instead, today is about another attempt by the Democrats to revive the socialist drug pricing in the tax and spending spree that will destroy medical innovation and lead to fewer cures.
“The same drug pricing scheme that was blocked in the Energy and Commerce Committee with a bipartisan vote.
“H.R. 6833 is also the largest expansion of the federal government’s role in private health insurance design since Obamacare.
“It takes us one step closer to socialized medicine.
“The Congressional Budget Office’s score released today indicates the bill will cost the federal government more than $11 billion over the next 10 years through higher subsidies for higher premiums.
“What we don’t know is how other drug out of pocket costs may increase.
GIVING PBMs A PASS TO HIDE SAVINGS FROM PATIENTS
“In addition, instead of allowing President Trump’s rebate rule to go into effect and require health industry middlemen such as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to pass along real drug cost savings directly to patients, this bill delays the rule again.
“It’s a budget gimmick to give PBMs and other actors a pass to keep drug costs high on patients so Democrats can ‘offset’ the premium increase created in this bill and create a phony $9 billion piggy bank for a down payment on their partisan, socialist agenda.”
HIGHER COSTS ON PATIENTS
“Here is what the bill also does – it requires every private insurance plan across the country to offer certain insulins, not all, for no more than $35 per month.
“It does nothing to lower the cost of insulin for those without insurance.
“Again, we all agree on lowering the cost of insulin.
“But this approach has unintended consequences: insurers will then have higher costs.
“Do you think the insurance industry will just take on the extra costs?
“We know the answer – they won’t.
“This industry has only grown and made more money since Obamacare was implemented, with health insurance stocks outperforming the S&P 500 by 106 percent from 2014-2018.
“Health insurer profits topped $35 billion in 2019.
“So, what will insurance companies do if required to offer insulin at $35?
“They’ll pass those costs to patients in the form of higher out-of-pocket costs for other drugs or higher premiums.
“So, because we’re here today talking about this bill and not a solution like H.R. 19, insurance companies can shift the costs to patients with other diseases.”
LOWER COSTS, MORE CURES
“There is a better bipartisan solution to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
“It’s the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, H.R. 19.
“Again, every provision in this is bipartisan.
“H.R. 19 would lower costs for all prescription drugs, including insulin.
“It caps seniors’ out of pocket costs for insulin at $50 per month through Medicare.
“It also allows high deductible health insurance plans to cover insulin before the deductible kicks in.
“It increases low-cost options by bringing more generic and biosimilar competition to the marketplace and it gives patients more drug price transparency.
“Additionally, we should build off of the Trump Administration’s voluntary Part D Senior Savings model – which has been continued by the Biden Administration.
“It offers more than 100 drug plans to more than 17 million seniors the option for drug coverage with a guaranteed monthly cap of $35 per insulin prescription.”
LET’S WORK TOGETHER
“Let’s not abandon what is possible on the Energy and Commerce Committee if we plow the hard ground to legislate.
“Let’s do the work without resorting to government price controls and socialized medicine.
“We share the goal to lower the costs of insulin and for prescription drugs across the board.
“Let’s do it without destroying medical innovation and the hope patients have here in America for life-saving cures and treatments.
“Imagine today, if we were talking about curing diabetes, not just treating it.
“That is how we win the future.
“We have the foundation ready to go in the Lower Costs, More Cures Act to come together on a solution in our committees of jurisdiction that lowers costs for all drugs and ensures a future of more cures.
“I urge us to return to that work and reject H.R. 6388.”