Prescription Drug Legislation Moves Through The House
The House of Representatives is slated to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The bill recognizes that out-of-pocket costs are too high for many patients and therefore restructures the Medicare Part D benefit to provide financial relief for many Part D beneficiaries. H.R. 3 caps beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 (Section 301 of the bill).
Second, H.R. 3 addresses drug pricing systems that create incentives for drug companies to raise their list prices, often more rapidly than inflation. H.R. 3 aims to control and potentially reverse price increase for Medicare Part B (Section 201) and Part D (Section 202) drugs.
H.R. 3 also recognizes the underlying problem of high drug prices and provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) with authority to negotiate some prescription drug prices both for Medicare and private markets (Section 101). H.R. 3 creates an international price index (of a drug’s volume-weighted average price in six countries) to be used as a target price ceiling.
Using the savings from reduced Medicare drug prices, the bill expands numerous Medicare benefits, including access to Part D's low-income subsidy program and by providing vision, hearing and dental benefits in Medicare Part B. It also it uses savings to fund non-Medicare health programs and activities, including NIH medical research.
Lastly, H.R. 3 addresses an NRHA priority and enhances funding for Community Health Centers. H.R. 3 invests $10 billion of direct funds in Community Health Centers, which serve 29 million Americans in communities across the United States. This includes: $5 billion for capital improvements and construction to expand the footprint of Community Health Centers; and $5 billion in additional funding for Community Health Center grants, allowing them to serve more people, including veterans, patients with substance use disorder, and Americans living in rural areas.