June 22, 2021

Crapo, Burr Reintroduce Legislation to Tackle Prescription Drug Prices, Encourage New Treatments

Lower Costs, More Cures Act brings market-based approach and innovative solutions to lowering prescription drug costs

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, reintroduced the Lower Costs, More Cures Act (LCMCA) 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.  Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Steve Daines (R-Montana), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Roger Marshall (R-Kansas).

“America’s biopharmaceutical innovation recently brought life-saving vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in under one year,” Senator Crapo said.  “This same medical ingenuity is leading the world in bringing life-saving therapies to patients and discovering cures for the future.  However, access to affordable prescriptions remains one of the most persistent challenges facing our nation, and these treatments are only effective if patients can afford them.  The Lower Costs, More Cures Act is a comprehensive, market-based approach to leveraging competition, flexibility and transparency to bring affordable drugs to patients without stifling innovative growth and research.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how every American stands to benefit from the life-saving work of our biomedical research community,” said Senator Burr.  “It’s essential our payment models, in both public and private health care programs, keep pace with future breakthrough developments.  That’s why I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this important bill that will help lower costs for seniors, increase transparency and bring more choices to families buying medicines.  This bill includes solutions that have strong bipartisan support and works to enhance Americans’ access to the next generation of treatments and cures.”

“Year after year, Montanans continue to face out of control prescription drugs costs. Folks in Montana and across the country should not have to choose between putting food on their table or paying for their medicine,” said Senator Daines, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care.  “Congress should act to address the high out of pocket costs for prescription drugs, and we must do it now.”

“Too many Americans have had to make the impossible choice between putting food on their tables or paying for their prescriptions,” said Senator Scott.  “Our bill takes important steps to end that cycle, making prescription medications more affordable by increasing accountability for drug manufacturers and encouraging innovation.”

“Access to affordable prescription drugs is one of the greatest challenges facing Idahoans, particularly those in rural communities,” said Senator Risch.  “The Lower Costs, More Cures Act offers a commonsense solution to this problem by expanding access to alternative treatments and incentivizing the creation of new cures.  Additionally, the bill increases drug pricing transparency and caps patients’ out-of-pocket costs for life-saving medication.  This legislation would provide relief to families across Idaho, and I’m proud to support it.”

“I’ve been working to make sure that North Carolinians have affordable health care, which includes having access to prescription drugs they can afford,” said Senator Tillis.  “The Lower Costs, More Cures Act is a commonsense solution that will bring down prescription drug costs for North Carolinians while also ensuring that America continues to be the global leader in innovation and producing life-saving treatments and cures.”

“Whether it’s on my 99 County Tour or even in discussions around the kitchen table with my family members who depend on life-saving medications, folks from every corner of our state are clear that they want to see Congress act to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs,” said Senator Ernst.  “This has been a top priority for me, and while we’ve had success in getting laws on the books to help reduce costs, there’s more work to do, which is why I’m proud to join Senator Crapo and my colleagues on this legislation.”

“Congress must pass legislation that will lower out-of-pocket patient spending, provide access to life-saving medicines, increase transparency and champion competition,” said Senator Marshall.  “The Lower Costs, More Cures Act strikes the right balance of improving access to medicine while encouraging innovators to be pioneers and develop the next breakthrough treatments and cures.  Both sides of the aisle can agree that this is a big win for American health care, and I look forward to these life changing solutions becoming law.”

The Lower Costs, More Cures Act, among other things, would:

  • Modernize payments for drugs delivered in the doctor’s office under Medicare Part B;
  • Incentivize lower-cost alternatives, or biosimilars;
  • Establish an annual out-of-pocket cap of $3,100 for Medicare Part D enrollees and allow certain patients to pay in monthly installments;
  • Decrease beneficiary cost sharing from 25 percent to 15 percent of costs before the out-of-pocket cap is reached;
  • Allow prescription drug plan sponsors to offer, at minimum, up to four Part D plans per region, spurring competition and innovation;
  • Make permanent the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation model that enables Part D enrollees taking insulin to limit out-of-pocket costs to $35;
  • Allow state Medicaid programs to enter in outcomes-based agreements to pay for life-saving gene therapy treatments;
  • Provide the HHS Secretary with the authority to require drug manufacturers to provide pricing information on all direct-to-consumer advertising;
  • Codify a Trump Administration regulatory action that classifies insulin and other treatments for chronic conditions as preventative care so that high deductible health plans can cover costs before the patient reaches the deductible; and
  • Create a trade negotiator solely dedicated to putting American patients first in government trade negotiations related to medicines in order to prevent foreign free-loading off America’s investment.

Full text of the LCMCA can be found HERE, and a section-by-section can be found HERE.