Underwood-Backed Legislation to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs for Illinois Families Passes the House of Representatives

December 12, 2019
Press Release
Passage marks success in major tenants of Underwood’s Five Point Plan to Reduce Drug Prices

NEW DATA: In Illinois’ 14th District, over 83,000 Medicare Part D enrollees and over 500,000 people enrolled in a private health insurance plan would benefit from H.R. 3

WASHINGTON— Legislation championed by Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) that would reduce prescription drug costs for Illinois families today passed the House of Representatives. In the last decade, the cost of prescription drugs has drastically increased, impacting patients’ ability to afford many of the life-saving medications they depend on. The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that one-third of American adults report that they or a family member have decided not to fill a prescription, rationed medication below their prescribed dose, or skipped doses altogether because they could not afford the full price of the drug. The Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) would address the rising cost of prescription drugs by reducing out-of-pocket costs—including by limiting seniors’ out-of-pocket costs to $2,000 per year—empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans, and eliminating outrageous price hikes. H.R. 3 also makes a historic improvement to the Medicare program by expanding coverage to include dental, hearing, and vision services, and invests critical funding in innovative new treatments and the fight against the opioid crisis.

In October, Underwood introduced a five-point plan to reduce the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs for Illinois families. In the plan, Underwood details the steps Congress must to take to reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, negotiate lower drug prices, eliminate price hikes, ensure generics remain affordable options, and invest in research for tomorrow’s cures. Major tenants of Underwood’s plan passed today as part of H.R. 3.

“Families across northern Illinois are being absolutely crushed by the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. Even families with good jobs and employer-sponsored insurance are being forced to make tough choices just to pay for the prescriptions they depend on—and some are forced to ration or go without completely. It’s unacceptable and unsustainable, prescription drugs don’t work if you can’t afford to take them,” said Rep Underwood. “The Lower Drug Costs Now Act is a strong solution that will give families some desperately-needed relief. I will continue to work with my colleagues to lower health care costs and ensure all Illinoisans have access to quality care.

In a newly released report from the House Ways and Means Committee, research shows that 83,094 people in the 14th District of Illinois enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and 519,001 people in the 14th District of Illinois enrolled in a private health insurance plan would benefit from the passage of H.R. 3. Under H.R. 3, Illinois seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D plans would have new protections to cap their out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 per year. Under current law, Medicare Part D beneficiaries do not have an out-of-pocket maximum. Additionally, over 1 million Illinois residents with diabetes could see the cost of commonly used insulins dramatically decrease. Under H.R. 3, some commonly used insulins would cost as little as $400 per year.

 H.R. 3 would:

  • Establish a fair price drug negotiation program to reduce the cost of certain high-priced drugs without competition.
  • Create a new, $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs, adding an important protection for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Reverse years of unfair price hikes above inflation across thousands of drugs in Medicare.
  • Provides $10 billion in investments for combatting the opioid crisis over the next five years.

In Congress, Underwood has worked to lower health care costs and protect and improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. In October, Underwood unveiled a five point plan to reduce the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs for Illinois families. In the plan, Underwood details the steps Congress must to take to reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, negotiate lower drug prices, eliminate price hikes, ensure generics remain affordable options, and invest in research for tomorrow’s cures. Each concept in Underwood’s proposal has bipartisan support. In September, Underwood introduced the Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act that would eliminate cost barriers to common lifesaving medications and screenings. Underwood’s legislation would require private health insurance plans, including high deductible health plans, to cover certain preventive care and prescription drugs without charging a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible-related fee. In July, Underwood hosted a press conference to discuss the impact of the rising cost of insulin. During the event, Underwood released a report compiled by the Committee on Oversight and Reform on the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured, like insulin, which 1.3 million Illinoisans depend on. Additionally, Underwood introduced the Health Care Affordability Act to reduce premiums for consumers who purchase plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Care Affordability Act would expand tax credits to people who don’t currently qualify for them because their income is higher than 400 percent of the federal poverty level and would increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets. 

 

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