Haaland Votes to Strengthen Health Care, Lower Cost of Prescriptions

May 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, Congresswoman Haaland (NM-01) voted to pass H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, a bill that addresses two major concerns New Mexicans face every day – lowering prescription drug prices and defending vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

 

“No one should have to break the bank to stay healthy, but the cost of medications and the position that the Trump administration is putting people with preexisting conditions in, forces folks to choose between basic necessities and essential medicines. This package of health care bills that we passed in the House will provide some relief by removing barriers so lower-cost generic drugs are available in the over the counter market earlier, reducing costs for New Mexicans,” said Haaland.

 

The bipartisan package includes three bills to lower prescription drug costs by helping get lower-priced generic drugs to market faster, and four measures to reinforce the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and expand enrollment in quality, affordable coverage.  This bipartisan package invests most of the savings that will generated by promoting generic competition into strengthening our health care system by increasing enrollment in quality coverage and helping interested states set up their own state-based marketplaces, which outperform the Federal marketplace.

 

The bipartisan legislative package includes the following three key drug pricing measures to remove barriers to lower-priced generic drugs getting to market and competing with brand-name drugs, thereby creating significant savings for consumers:

 

  • The CREATES Act:  Currently, certain brand-name manufacturers use tactics to withhold or delay generic manufacturers getting from them the brand drug samples they need to develop their generic products.  This bill establishes a process by which generic manufacturers are able to obtain sufficient quantities of the brand drug samples, thereby blocking these delaying tactics.
  • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act:  Currently, brand-name drug manufacturers can enter into a “pay-for-delay” agreement in which the brand-name manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to delay bringing a generic equivalent to market, significantly hurting consumers.  This bill makes these “pay-for-delay” agreements illegal.
  • The BLOCKING Act:  Currently, the first generic applicant to FDA is granted 180 days of market exclusivity, but some generics then fail to move the product to market, called “parking” – thereby blocking other generics from applying to FDA.  This bill allows generics to get to market earlier by changing the rules on “parking.”

Getting more lower-priced generic drugs into the prescription drug market is a key way to create billions of dollars in cost savings for consumers and taxpayers.  For example, in 2017 alone, the entry of generic drugs into the market saved consumers and taxpayers a total of $265 billion.  According to one estimate, the average drug price decreases by 50 percent in the first year of generic entry, with an 80 percent reduction in five years.

 

The bipartisan legislative package also includes the following four measures to improve our health care system by revoking the Junk Plan rule, thereby reinforcing protections for pre-existing conditions; expanding the number of individuals with quality, affordable coverage; and helping more states create state-based marketplaces:

  • The SAVE Act: This bipartisan bill appropriates $200 million to assist interested states in creating their own state-based marketplaces.  State-based marketplaces are outperforming the Federal marketplace, achieving lower premiums and higher enrollment.  This bill empowers states to implement new approaches that lower costs and expand coverage for American families, thereby improving our health care system.
  • The MORE Health Education Act & The ENROLL Act:  These bills, containing provisions similar to provisions in the bipartisan Alexander-Murray proposal put forward in the Senate in the last Congress, restore critical funding for marketplace consumer outreach and enrollment education activities, as well as critical funding for the Navigator program, both of which the Trump Administration has slashed.  CBO estimates this funding will result in about 500,000 additional enrollees in nongroup quality, affordable coverage and Medicaid each year over the next 10 years.
  • Rescinding the Trump Administration’s Devastating Junk Plan Rule:  This bill reinforces the protections for people with pre-existing conditions by revoking the Trump Administration’s rule that promotes the sale of junk plans, which discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and do not cover essential benefits.  A recent KFF poll finds that, by 53% to 37%, Republicans oppose junk plans. 
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