A crash course on the House of Representatives prescription drug cost bill

By Jackie Nappo

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Many congressional leaders campaigned on lowering prescription drug prices, and finally the opportunity has arisen for them to make good on that promise.

The Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, or H.R. 3, finally passed almost entirely along party lines in the House of Representatives. The bill includes three major checks on the pharma industry that would mean more affordable for consumers and major savings for the federal budget.    Major provisions include:

  • Allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs and enabling the negotiated price to be used for those with private insurance, too.
  • Limiting price increases to the rate of inflation.
  • Capping out-of-pocket payments for Medicare recipients to $2,000 per year.

Why aren’t Republicans supporting this bill and what alternatives are they proposing? How does the bill guarantee lower prices for prescription drugs? What happens next? We thought some of these resources might be helpful in answering these and other questions you might have.

Here are two great articles from Vox and NPR, respectively, that explain some of the lead up to writing the bill and what exactly ended up in the final version:

H.R. 3 wasn’t the only bill legislators were tinkering with to lower drug costs. In this video, you can hear about the competing legislation on the table to attack this problem, and how they measure up to H.R. 3. Click here to watch.

Opponents of H.R. 3 have come out and said that the price negotiation aspect of the bill will limit innovation, resulting in fewer drugs going to market in the next 20 years. Kaiser Health News unpacks these claims and gives some much needed context, debunking that argument. Click to read more.

So what does it all mean, and how does it fit into 2020? Politico explains some of the politics surrounding H.R. 3 and why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likely won’t call the bill to be voted on in the Senate. Click to read more.

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