WASHINGTON, DC – Democrats have an opportunity to return to efforts to reform Medicare Part D to lower drug costs for seniors, say Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ways and Means Committee Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX). Productive discussions were abandoned by the Majority to pursue Speaker Pelosi’s partisan plan for fewer cures last year.
In a letter to Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), Walden and Brady urge the chairmen to resume the bipartisan work that was underway to redesign the benefit structure of Medicare Part D to provide needed relief to seniors.
“Last May, our committees made progress in negotiating an agreement to modernize the benefit and to deliver essential savings to seniors, but negotiations stopped once H.R. 3 was introduced,” Walden and Brady write in the letter. “Now that we know H.R. 3 is going nowhere, Americans need us to return to the negotiation table to deliver on this promise to our seniors this year. It’s time for us to work together to provide real relief to seniors.”
Medicare Part D continues to be enormously successful in delivering affordable, high quality treatments for seniors – at a cost to taxpayers nearly 50 percent under budget. Walden and Brady stress the need to modernize the program to work even better for seniors, which was a bipartisan priority last year before H.R. 3 was introduced.
“The House spent the last three months considering Speaker Pelosi’s H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a bill we continue to oppose and has no chance of becoming law. Senate Leadership has declared H.R. 3 ‘dead on arrival,’ and President Trump said he would veto it should it come to his desk,” Walden and Brady continue. “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that H.R. 3 could result in up to 8 fewer drugs brought to market over the next 10 years and 30 fewer drugs in the subsequent decade. Other studies have shown that H.R. 3 could result in up to 100 fewer drugs over the next decade as well as result in an 88% reduction in new drugs manufactured by small biopharmaceutical firms in California. While H.R. 3 will not become law, H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, includes bipartisan provisions that can become law.”
The Lower Costs, More Cures Act (H.R. 19) introduced by Walden, Brady, Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and Judiciary Committee Republican Leader Doug Collins (R-GA), is the only bipartisan, bicameral legislation in Congress to lower drug costs for Americans. Importantly, this legislation includes policies that would make the most significant changes to Medicare Part D since it was first created in 2003. President Trump has also voiced support for making changes to the Part D benefit structure in his fiscal year 2020 budget.
Specifically, Walden and Brady call on Democrats to work on the following areas of agreement to modernize Medicare Part D:
Creating an out-of-pocket cap for seniors once they reach the catastrophic phase.
Enabling seniors who hit the cap to divide the financial burden over the course of the plan year instead of absorbing the full cost in the first quarter, further easing financial challenges for seniors.
Reversing the perverse incentives in the current design by lowering the government’s financial liability and giving insurers and manufacturers a greater incentive to manage costs.
“The cost of prescription drugs continues to be an issue of the utmost importance to the American people,” Walden and Brady write. “Americans need Congress to deliver a bipartisan solution that lowers the price of prescription drugs. House Republicans remain committed to working with the Majority to get a bill signed into law this year.”
To read the letter, click HERE.