Washington, DC -- Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which will help bring down the cost of prescription drugs and level the playing field for American patients who are paying more for their medicines than patients in other countries.
This bipartisan bill gives the Department of Health and Human Services the power to negotiate the prices of the most costly drugs in the U.S, which don’t face competition, and these lower prices will be transparent so that private insurance companies can make the same prices available to their consumers. With the savings from lower drug prices -- estimated to be nearly half a trillion dollars -- Medicare’s benefits will be expanded to cover vision, dental, and hearing and billions of dollars will be directed to medical research on breakthrough cures, new investments to combat the opioid epidemic, and more. The legislation also creates a new $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
“We have miracle drugs that can save lives, but they don’t do any good when the American people can’t afford them,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “The skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs are crushing Virginia families, taking a toll on their finances and -- in the worst cases -- costing lives. Many of my constituents are making impossible decisions, rationing their insulin and other medication to pay their rent or put food on the table. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to send this legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”
“Too many Virginians -- of all ages -- have a hard time keeping up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. There is an opportunity and an urgency for Congress to make prescription drugs more affordable, and I thank Representative Wexton for her leadership,” said Jim Dau, State Director, AARP Virginia.
“My 8-year-old son, Jack, has cystic fibrosis. Recently, we were thrilled to learn that there’s a new medication that has the potential to save his life. However, it costs $397 a day -- and Jack will need to take this medicine every day for the rest of his, hopefully long, life. My son needs this medicine, but if my family can’t afford it, my child can’t benefit from it. Medicine can only save lives if the people who need it can access it. Children like Jack need innovative medicines, but they also need their government to STOP allowing pharmaceutical companies to prioritize bloated corporate profits over patient lives. Jack, and all of our children, deserve better,” said Tasha Nelson, a VA-10 constituent.
WATCH: Rep. Wexton speaks on the House floor in support of H.R. 3, the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act
In April, the Congresswoman held a roundtable on the skyrocketing cost of diabetes drugs where she heard from patients, health care providers, and advocates. Participants shared stories of patients rationing insulin and of refugees and immigrants experiencing “sticker shock” at the cost of prescription drugs in America. Wexton pledged to take their stories back to Congress and find solutions to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
In Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, there are 58,639 people enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and 722,838 people enrolled in private health insurance -- all of whom stand to benefit from H.R. 3. For example, those living with diabetes, cancer, and asthma are expected to experience significant savings as a result of H.R. 3:
- Patients living with diabetes: 687,972 Virginia residents live with diabetes. Under H.R. 3, Virginians could spend 3.5 times less on insulin.
- Patients living with breast cancer: In 2019, an estimated 7,120 women in Virginia will be diagnosed with breast cancer. H.R. 3 can lower the average total cost of the breast cancer medication Ibrance by 65%.
- Patients living with prostate cancer: In 2019, an estimated 5,440 people in Virginia will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. H.R. 3 can lower the average total cost of the prostate cancer medication Zytiga by 66%.
- Patients with asthma: About 8.9% of Virginia residents live with asthma, and H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most asthma drugs from about $1,400 to $270 per year.
In addition to lowering prescription drug prices, H.R. 3 also reinvests savings into expanding Medicare coverage for dental, vision, and hearing services. Over 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District would stand to gain from these added benefits.