Underwood Unveils Five Point Plan to Reduce Drug Prices
WASHINGTON— Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) 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. Each concept in Underwood’s proposal has bipartisan support.
“No one should struggle to afford the lifesaving prescription drugs they need to live healthy lives, yet far too many Illinois families are in this position and forced to go without the medication they need. It’s dangerous and unacceptable,” said Rep. Underwood. “My plan would lower prescription drug costs at the pharmacy counter, putting money back in patients’ pockets and improving their health and well-being, while promoting sustainable investment in research that will lead to American innovations in prevention, new treatments, and cures. Illinois continues to lead in medical discoveries and the development of lifesaving treatments and our plan allows Americans to access these critical medications at affordable prices.”
A one pager of Underwood’s plan can be found here.
Representative Underwood’s Five Point Plan to Reduce Drug Prices
- Reduce out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs
All Americans should be able to afford their prescription drugs. Instead, our system allows far too many people to be stuck in an unaffordable cycle of endless, expensive co-payments, often putting these lifesaving medications out of reach. By capping Medicare out-of-pocket prescription drugs costs at $2,000 per year, we can dramatically improve the Part D Drug benefit, which currently allows unlimited out-of-pockets costs. Americans with private insurance coverage would also see real savings from eliminating out-of-pocket costs for common medications like insulin and inhalers used to treat chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma. (H.R. 3, H.R. 4457)
- Negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans
The Secretary of Health and Human Services should be able to negotiate lower prices on behalf of all Americans for the highest cost drugs and insulin. President Trump has repeatedly called for negotiation and pointed out at the 2019 State of the Union Address that it is “unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs.” Negotiation will stop pharmaceutical companies from price gouging American patients. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates negotiation will lower prices by 55 percent, saving Medicare $345 billion between 2023 and 2029, and lowering insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for families. CBO further states what we all intuitively know to be true: when people can afford their drugs, they will be healthier and avoid higher-cost care, saving Medicare $40 billion. (HR. 3)
- Eliminate outrageous price hikes
Drug companies shouldn’t be allowed to hike the prices of lifesaving drugs like insulin year over year. Under the plan, new transparency requirements would make pharmaceutical companies publicly report and justify price increases, and new enforcement authorities would penalize drug companies that unjustifiably raise prices by requiring them to pay that extra money back to the purchaser, which will prevent companies from raising prices in the first place. (H.R. 4663, H.R. 2296)
- Ensure generics remain affordable options
Name-brand drug manufacturers are gaming the system to prevent more affordable generic drugs from becoming available options for consumers. Closing these loopholes would bring more low-cost drug options to local pharmacies. (H.R. 965, H.R. 1499)
- Invest in research for tomorrow’s cures
We need to continue to invest in research that will lead to innovative prevention, treatments, and cures by restoring full federal funding for biomedical research over 10 years. These critical investments will create breakthrough treatments and lifesaving cures while supporting high-quality jobs in northern Illinois and billions of dollars in economic output. (H.R. 2401)
In Congress, Underwood has worked to lower health care costs and protect and improve access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. 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.