Rep. Watson Coleman Votes to Pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act

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Washington, December 12, 2019 | comments

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman voted to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This legislation is a first step to strengthen the health and financial security of America’s seniors and families by finally stopping Americans from having to pay more for their medicines than what corporations charge for the same drugs in other countries. 

“Americans pay more for their prescription drugs than any other developed nation. H.R. 3 is an incredible first step toward fixing that, but we need to do more and address all of the factors that have led to this disparity – including PBM’s (or pharmacy benefit managers), wholesalers, distributors, insurance companies and pharmacies.” said Rep. Watson Coleman.  “Too many American seniors and families are being forced to make the unthinkable choice between filling a prescription and paying their bills.  Everyone should be able to afford the care they need to stay healthy, and to stay alive.”

The Lower Drug Costs Now Act finally levels the playing field for American patients and taxpayers: 

  • Gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with the drug companies and creates powerful new tools to bring about real price reductions, while ensuring seniors never lose access to the prescriptions they need. 
  • Makes the lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare available to Americans with private insurance, not just Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Creates parity for American consumers, limiting the maximum price for any negotiated drug to be in line with the average price in other countries like ours, where patients pay less for the same prescriptions.
  • Creates a new, $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and reverses years of unfair price hikes above inflation across thousands of drugs in Medicare. 
  • Reinvests the hundreds of billions of dollars in savings from these transformational improvements to Medicare – delivering vision, dental and hearing benefits – and turbocharging the search for new cures.

For the 12th District seniors enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and the 570,000 individuals enrolled in private health insurance, H.R. 3 will deliver substantial savings that will make a real difference in their lives.

H.R. 3 will reduce drug costs for millions of Americans in the 12th District and across the New Jersey: 

  • Breast Cancer: New Jersey patients could save $69,000 off the average total cost of the breast cancer medication Ibrance per year;
  • Leukemia: New Jersey patients could save $93,000 off the average total cost of the leukemia medication Tasigna per year;
  • Prostate Cancer: New Jersey patients could save $109,000 off the average total cost of the prostate cancer medication Zytiga per year;
  • Arthritis: New Jersey patients could save $40,000 off their total costs on most arthritis drugs per year;
  • Asthma: New Jersey patients could save $1,400 off their total costs on most Asthma drugs per year;
  • HIV/AIDS: New Jersey patients could save $15,000 off their total costs on most HIV/AIDS drugs per year;
  • Multiple Sclerosis: New Jersey patients could save $40,000 off their total costs on most MS drugs per year;
  • Diabetes: In New Jersey, the 645,000 patients could spend 3.5 times less on insulin.

Additionally, H.R. 3’s expansion of Medicare coverage for dental, vision and hearing services represents a significant out-of-pocket savings for New Jersey seniors, with:

  • 127,200 Medicare beneficiaries in the 12th District estimated to gain dental benefits;
  • 113,400 Medicare beneficiaries in the 12th District estimated to obtain vision benefits;
  • 125,100 Medicare beneficiaries in the 12th District estimated to secure hearing benefits.   

H.R. 3 also invests $10 billion of direct funds in Community Health Centers, which serve 29 million Americans including over 28,000 in the 12th District

“On behalf of the people of New Jersey and all Americans, I am proud to join my colleagues to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, delivering significant savings for patients, employers and taxpayers and making critical investments in both the largest expansion of Medicare benefits since the program’s creation, as well as an expansion of lifesaving research for the groundbreaking cures of the future,” continued Rep. Watson Coleman.  “This is a historic step, but I want to be clear: this is by no means the only action I’ll be taking to bring down drug prices for my constituents.”

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