Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
On December 19, 2019, Senate colleagues and I introduced S. 3129, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, to lower prescription drug prices and encourage the development of new therapies and cures. This bill contains provisions that already have broad, bipartisan support in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Focusing on achievable areas of agreement can make progress in truly making prescription drugs more affordable.
America is the leader in biopharmaceutical innovation, bringing life-saving therapies to patients and discovering cures. However, these drugs are only effective if patients can afford them. Alarmingly, a recent study suggested that in 2017, 37 percent of Idaho residents stopped taking medication as prescribed due to cost. President Trump made a commitment to prioritize lowering drug costs, and this legislation will accomplish that.
Fellow Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) joined me in introducing S. 3129 to lower prescription drug prices, bring greater transparency to the prescription drug industry and encourage American ingenuity in the development of new treatments and cures. The Lower Costs, More Cures Act builds on the market-based principles of Medicare Part D to leverage competition, flexibility and transparency to bring affordable drugs to patients.
Through this legislation, for the first time, Part D patients would have a maximum out-of-pocket cap to protect them from high costs. Providers would have access to information to recommend lower-cost alternatives, and Medicare Part B would appropriately pay providers for prescribing the best drug for their patient. The legislation includes numerous reforms intended to do the following:
Introduction of this legislation is part of my commitment to ensure greater access to affordable medications for patients, while adhering to market-driven principles. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also voted in favor of four bills to prevent patent gaming by pharmaceutical companies, which would enable more affordable generic drugs to come to market sooner.
Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon) introduced legislation similar to S. 3129 in the House of Representatives. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) co-sponsored the House bill that received bipartisan support when considered by the House. The Administration has called it “a far better approach to lowering drug prices and discovering life-saving cures” than the House-passed legislation. Congress should act now to pass the Lower Costs, More Cures Act into law.
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