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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

During the recent address to the Joint Session of Congress, President Joe Biden said, “Now, look, if you don’t like my plan, let’s at least pass what we all agree on.” I agree with his sentiment broadly, and my goal as the Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee is to find areas that we can agree on in order to deliver real results for our constituents. That’s why I support H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act to lower prescription drug costs.

Reintroduced this Congress, every single one of the 40 provisions in the Lower Costs, More Cures Act is bipartisan. It was disappointing to see House Democrats stand behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s partisan drug pricing bill, H.R. 3, last Congress and again this Congress. Although the Lower Costs, More Cures Act was not passed in its entirety, our bipartisan alternative still had 15 provisions that were signed into law last Congress. Since the start of this Congress, four more provisions from H.R. 19 have already been signed into law.


As the cost of gas, food, and other goods is increasing, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act would decrease drug costs and give seniors in Medicare certainty on their prescription drug spending. Under this bill, Medicare beneficiaries would benefit from the first ever out-of-pocket spending cap for prescription drugs. Seniors would also have their insulin and insulin supply costs capped after they meet their deductible. Instead of paying for costly drugs all at once, a patient smoothing provision in this bill would lessen the burden for seniors by allowing them to spread out their drug costs over a certain time period. The Lower Costs, More Cures Act also prevents drug companies from gaming the system, promotes price transparency, and helps end American taxpayers from having to subsidize innovation for other countries through stronger trade agreements. The Lower Costs, More Cures Act would not only decrease drug costs, but also prioritize and protect the medical innovation that will help produce new treatments and cures.

On the other hand, Speaker Pelosi’s drug pricing plan would “negotiate” drug costs, but the “negotiation” is forcing up to a 95% tax on a drug company’s revenue if the company does not accept the mandated government price. H.R. 3 policies disincentivize companies to take risks on years-long projects to develop treatments. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Speaker Pelosi’s government takeover of prescription drug prices would result in up to 15 fewer drugs over 10 years, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers under the Trump Administration estimated that up to 100 life-saving drugs would not come to market.

I’m relieved Speaker Pelosi’s damaging, socialized medicine policies were not able to take a toll on our medical innovation this past year as we were developing COVID-19 vaccines. It does not make sense to me that House Democrats would want to pass a bill during a global pandemic that would limit medical innovation. We have three safe and effective vaccines and potentially more to be approved soon. Our allies in the European Union focused more on dictating the price and micromanaging access to vaccines than investing in innovation, like Speaker Pelosi wants to do here. As a result, these countries are behind the United States in distributing vaccines to their citizens, and this delay is costing lives.

After seeing how our system helped put us in a strong position with COVID-19 vaccines, it’s puzzling that Speaker Pelosi is still pursuing a partisan drug pricing plan that could hinder the development of cures for ALS, cancer, or even the next global pandemic. I participated in a bipartisan meeting on cancer research at the White House earlier this year and expressed to President Biden that I’m tired of the constant party line votes. I believe that we have many opportunities to work together on bipartisan polices, especially in health care. President Biden said we should “pass what we all agree on,” so let’s send the Lower Costs, More Cures Act to President Biden‘s desk to protect and encourage innovation and deliver lower drug costs for Americans.

• U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie, Kentucky Republican, represents the Second Congressional District and serves as the Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. He was also appointed to a second term as a Deputy Whip within the House Republican Conference. A 1987 graduate of West Point, Guthrie served as a Field Artillery Officer in the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault at Fort Campbell and earned a master’s degree from Yale in Public and Private Management.


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