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Pascrell Votes to Strengthen American Health Care

House passed bill lowers drug costs and fights back against Republican sabotage of the ACA

Washington, May 16, 2019

Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) celebrated the House passage of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. The bill will strengthen health care options, reverse Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), rescind the Trump administration’s destructive junk insurance plan rule, and promote competition in the prescription drug marketplace.

“Americans elected the new House to provide a careful balance of oversight combined with an aggressively positive agenda. With today’s vote, the House is fighting back against Donald Trump and Republicans’ repeated attempts to destroy the ACA and weaken health care for millions,” stated Rep. Pascrell. “Furthermore, for too long, Americans and their families strangled by high drug prices have cried out for their elected leaders to lower prices. Our legislation delivers reforms to ease that burden.”

The package of legislation passed today includes Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-NJ-03) State Allowance for a Variety of Exchanges, or SAVE Act. This bipartisan bill would ease the transition to state-based marketplaces (SBM) for many states like New Jersey that currently participate in the federally-facilitated exchange and plan to move to an SBM.  Switching to an SBM helps states achieve higher enrollment and lower premiums compared to the federally-facilitated marketplace.

Breakdown of H.R. 987

Reducing drug prices is dependent upon allowing generics to come to market quickly after patent and exclusivity periods end. The legislation closes loopholes that drugs companies exploit. Additionally, elements of the bill include:

  • The CREATES Act (H.R. 965), which would require brand-name manufacturers to provide access to samples for generic manufacturers. Currently, brand-name drugs withhold samples, delaying competition and thereby preventing consumers from accessing generic drugs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this would reduce the federal deficit by $3.9 billion over ten years.

 

  • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act (H.R. 1499), which bans pay-for-delay agreements that are used to slow the development of generics when brand drug manufacturers pay generic manufacturers in exchange for ceasing development of generic options. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that these agreements cost consumers and taxpayers $3.5 billion annually.

 

  • The BLOCKING Act (H.R. 938), which discourages generic manufacturers from using exclusivity periods to block the approval of other generics.

 

Additionally, H.R. 987 is compromised of several elements dedicated to making health care more affordable and reversing the Trump administration’s ongoing sabotage of the ACA, negative actions that have raised premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Americans.

  • The ENROLL Act (H.R. 1386), which reverses the Trump administration’s sabotage to the ACA by restoring funding to provide critical assistance to families and communities in hard-to-reach and underserved communities and helps enroll them in affordable coverage.

 

  • The MORE Health Education Act (H.R. 987) will restore funding for consumer outreach and enrollment activities that were also slashed by the administration. Some states have estimated that these activities lowered premiums by up to eight percent.

 

  • Rescinding Trump Administration’s Final Rule Promoting Junk Insurance Plans (H.R. 1010), which rescinds the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term, limited duration junk plans. These junk plans discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, leave consumers with massive unexpected medical bills, and increase costs for everyone by destabilizing the insurance markets. This bill ensures that only plans that protect pre-existing conditions in the ACA will not be undermined.
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