Monthly Archives

September 2019

MUST SEE TV: Speaker Pelosi, Joe Scarborough Discuss High Cost Of Prescription Drugs, Need to Pass Prescription Drug Bill

During an interview today on Morning Joe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the critical importance of passing House Democrats’ landmark legislation, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, that will lower prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and hold the big insurance and drug companies accountable for creating a rigged system. As the Speaker stated in her appearance, this bill “is about the financial security of families as well as the health security of families.” 

WATCH THE INTERVIEW: 

Read more about the Lower Drug Costs Now Act

Momentum Builds For House Democrats’ Prescription Drug Bill While Republicans Continue to Stand with Big Pharma

Last week, Speaker Pelosi, along with Chairmen Richard Neal, Frank Pallone, and Bobby Scott unveiled the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), monumental legislation that will lower prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and hold the big insurance and drug companies accountable. Since the bill was introduced, there has been widespread support within the House Democratic Caucus, as Members speak out about why this legislation is the best way to lower drug costs for families across the country.  

And while 86 percent of Americans favor the Democrats’ plan to end the ban on Medicare negotiating for lower drug prices, Republicans in Congress instead are standing with the big drug companies and against the Lower Drug Costs Now Act.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12): “The #LowerDrugCosts Now Act will be transformative – not only lowering prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, but making those lower prices available to all Americans.” [Speaker Pelosi Twitter, 9/26/19]

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD-05): “House Dems introduced the #LowerDrugCostsNow Act to bring down prescription drug prices for all Americans. I’m pleased @EnergyCommerce & @EdLaborCmte subcommittees held hearings this week to receive input from Members and the public as we advance this bill through the House.” [Leader Hoyer Twitter, 9/26/19]

Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (MA-01): “Proud to partner with @SpeakerPelosi on this bill to #LowerDrugCosts. People make unthinkable sacrifices just to afford medications they need to stay alive & that shouldn’t be the case. Our bill has teeth to ensure patients come first.” [Chairman Neal Twitter, 9/20/19]

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (NJ-06): “Any plan to #LowerDrugCosts has to empower Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. My new legislation does exactly that, and then ensures those negotiated prices are available to all Americans.” [Chairman Pallone Twitter, 9/24/19]

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17): “Our Majority is taking action to relieve the burden of soaring prescription prices. The #LowerDrugCosts Now Act would hold companies accountable and stop them from ripping off hardworking Americans. I stand with @teampelosi in the fight to #ProtectOurCare.” [Chairwoman Bustos Twitter, 9/19/19]

Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-04): “In the first 6 months of 2019, more than 3,400 prescription drugs raised their prices. That’s money out of your pocket. That’s why I stood today with @HealthCareVoter and @LittleLobbyists to take a stand and declare that it’s time for Congress to take action to #LowerDrugCosts!” [Rep. Horsford Twitter, 9/25/19]

Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06): “Families across the country are being faced with drug costs that force them to choose between health & paying their bills. We held a hearing in @EdLaborCmte today to #LowerDrugCosts & make sure Americans have access to the medicine they need. #ForThePeople.” [Rep. McBath Twitter, 9/26/19]

Rep. Susan Wild (PA-17): “People are dying because they can’t afford their lifesaving prescription medications. The days of Big Pharma putting their profits over people must come to an end.” [Rep. Wild Twitter, 9/27/19]

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03): “Drug companies are charging Americans 10x more for the same drug than what people in other countries pay. There’s bipartisan support to #LowerDrugCosts, negotiate drug prices, and stop drug companies from ripping off Americans. Let’s get this done #ForThePeople.” [Rep. Lujan Twitter, 9/25/19]

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08): “Prescription drug prices are out of control. House Dems have a plan to dramatically #LowerDrugCosts for everyday Americans. Pharma strongly opposes it. But we work for the public interest (not the special interests). We. Will. Not. Back. Down.” [Rep. Jeffries Twitter, 9/21/19]

Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-03): “Here are the key takeaways from @HouseDemocrats’ new plan to #LowerDrugCosts #ForThePeople. Ends ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices. Makes lower prices negotiated by Medicare available to all Americans. Stops drug companies from ripping off Americans.” [Rep. Beatty Twitter, 9/23/19]

Rep. Ed Case (HI-01): “Gladly cosponsoring H.R. 3 to tackle straight on the outrageous and increasing prices of prescription drugs. There is simply no reason, no explanation, no excuse that justifies not only the costs but the impacts on our very lives. #LowerDrugCosts #ForThePeople.” [Rep. Case Twitter, 9/20/19]

Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14): “Drug companies have doubled the price of nearly half of brand-name prescription drugs in less than a decade. Negotiation can drive down the costs of prescription drugs and the Lower Drug Costs Now Act will benefit our neighbors across #Florida and America. #LowerDrugCosts now!” [Rep. Castor Twitter, 9/25/19]

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05): “This week, @HouseDemocrats will keep our promise to #LowerDrugCosts by advancing #HR3, which would: Allow Medicare to negotiate directly w/ drug companies, make the negotiated prices available to all Americans, stops drug companies from charging Americans more than other nations.” [Rep. Cleaver Twitter, 9/27/19]

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01): “Insulin prices are out of control, and families across America are struggling because of it. We need to pass the #LowerDrugCosts Now Act!” [Rep. DeGette Twitter, 9/24/19]

Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-18): “Americans are struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need. The #LowerDrugCosts Act would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs and would extend those lower prices to all Americans. We need to get drug companies to the table and drive down costs!” [Rep. Doyle Twitter, 9/25/19]

Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11): “Across America, seniors and families are forced to decide whether to purchase prescription drugs or put food on the table.  It’s time for Congress to act to #LowerDrugCosts!” [Rep. Fudge Twitter, 9/19/19]

Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02): “Key takeaways from @HouseDemocrats’ new plan to #LowerDrugCosts? Allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Makes lower prices negotiated by Medicare available to all Americans. Stops drug companies from ripping off American.” [Rep. Neguse Twitter, 9/23/19]

Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-36): “I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impacts of skyrocketing prescription drug prices on my patients. My primary goal is to reduce out of pocket costs—that’s why I support the #LowerDrugCosts Now Act.” [Rep. Ruiz Twitter, 9/26/19]

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02): “In the first 6 months of 2019, pharmaceutical companies raised their prices on more than 3,400 drugs. What’s the use of life-saving medication if the people who need it can’t afford it? Americans deserve lower prescription drug prices NOW. #LowerDrugCosts.” [Rep. Ruppersberger Twitter, 9/20/19]

Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-01): “ We can no longer live in a nation where one must choose between life-saving medical treatment and putting food on the table. We must #LowerDrugCosts NOW and pass H.R. 3!” [Rep. Rush Twitter, 9/25/19]

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13): “In the first six months of 2019, more than 3,400 prescription drugs raised their prices. What’s the use of lifesaving medication if the people who need it can’t afford it? It’s time for Congress to take action to #LowerDrugCosts!” [Rep. Tlaib Twitter, 9/20/19]

Rep. David Trone (MD-06): “Seniors and families across America are struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy. I’m proud that Democrats are taking action to #LowerDrugCosts now.” [Rep. Trone Twitter, 9/19/19]

Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL-24): “Drug companies are using out-of-control prices to pad profits – not fund research and innovation. It’s time to #LowerDrugCosts!” [Rep. Wilson Twitter, 9/26/19]

UPCOMING VOTE: Senate Democrats’ Resolution Forces Republicans to Choose: Support Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions or Trump’s Sabotage Agenda

The Protect Pre-Existing Conditions Act Blocks Trump Administration Efforts to Undermine Health Care Law and Strip Pre-Existing Condition Protections 

Washington, DC — Today, Senate Democrats under the leadership of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) filed a discharge petition to force a vote on the Protect Pre-Existing Conditions Act which would undo the Trump administration’s new junk insurance plans that don’t cover people with pre-existing conditions. In response, Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“Any senator who votes against this resolution sends a crystal clear message: they don’t support protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Voters made clear they want these protections but Senate Republicans and President Trump continue to sabotage our health care and let insurance companies discriminate against 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions like asthma, high cholesterol and arthritis. Trump and Republicans have pushed to let the insurance companies sell these junk plans that cost more and cover less. If Senate Republicans vote against this resolution, it will be a nightmare for families and will come back to haunt Republicans politically.”

BACKGROUND

President Trump Wants To Gut Crucial Guardrail Protections. If He Gets His Way:

  • Protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be essentially meaningless. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said allowing states to waive essential health benefits “could render those protections meaningless” for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • It would be harder for people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable coverage. As Consumers Union stated, allowing states to waive essential health benefits would be “putting meaningful coverage out of reach for many Americans, especially those with chronic and pre existing conditions.”
  • You could pay more for the same coverage. The Trump administration would allow states to adjust the amount of premium tax credits and cost sharing consumers receive to help lower their costs. Without the guardrail to ensure coverage is just as affordable, many consumers could end up paying more for the same care.
  • Insurers would not have to cover essential benefits, like maternity care. Right now, every insurance plan must cover the 10 essential health benefits. Because states could opt out of covering these basic benefits, insurers would likely only offer policies that covered much less than they do now. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that the benefits most likely to no longer be covered would be maternity care, mental health or substance abuse coverage.
  • Insurers could reimpose lifetime and annual limits. Allowing states to opt out of the essential health benefits coverage means that insurance companies could once again put lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care you receive. The Center for American Progress estimates that 20 million people with health coverage through their employer would face lifetime limits on coverage, and 27 million would face annual limits.

As Many As 130 Million Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition

  • According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 130 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
    • 44 million people who have high blood pressure
    • 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
    • 44 million people who have high cholesterol
    • 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
    • 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
  • 17 million children, 68 million women, and 30 million people aged 55-64 have a pre-existing condition

Rep. Lauren Underwood’s Legislation Will Lower Costs and Expand Access to Essential Medications and Treatments

The Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act Will Improve Health Outcomes and Lowers Drug Costs for American Families 

Washington, DC — Today, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) introduced the Chronic Condition Copay Elimination Act, a bill that would lower the costs of essential medicines and treatments for patients suffering from chronic conditions. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Rep. Underwood’s bill takes much needed action to make prescription drugs and life-saving treatments more affordable for Americans who are burdened by skyrocketing costs. This legislation is crucial for people with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease — ensuring affordability and access to essential medications and treatments they need to survive. While Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans continue serving the interests of big drug and insurance companies, health care champions like Congresswoman Underwood refuse to stand by and let Americans with chronic illnesses suffer from sky-high copays and drug costs any longer.”

Mitch McConnell Sides with Pharma Over Patients and Families

Washington, D.C. — Today, in response to comments by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans that H.R. 3 is basically “dead on arrival” in the United States Senate, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Drug prices are too high and the current system is rigged to reward drug companies with massive profits. The bill introduced by House Democrats would require Medicare to negotiate for lower prices –  the most effective way to bring down prescription prices for every American. To no one’s surprise, Mitch McConnell and Republicans in the House and Senate are siding with pharma profits over patients and families.”

BACKGROUND: 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) Says Pelosi Drug Pricing Plan Is Dead In Senate: “ Of Course We’re Not Going To Be Calling Up A Bill Like That.” [Politico, 9/19/19]

Senate Republican Whip John Thune (SD): The Bill Is “Dead On Arrival” In The Senate. [Washington Post, 9/19/19

Sen. John Cornyn (TX): The Bill “Has Absolutely No Chance – Zero, Zip, Nada – No Chance” [Alex Ruoff Twitter, 9/19/19]

PhRMA: “We Do Not Need To Blow Up The Current System To Make Medicines More Affordable.” [Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Press Release, 9/19/19

Senator Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford’s Bill Delivers On Their Promise To Lower Health Care Costs For Working Families

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) along with Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV-04) introduced the Dependent Income Exclusion Act, a bill that takes much-needed action to lower the costs of health care for working families. The bill makes health care more affordable by expanding access to tax credits for working families with children who are working while enrolled in higher education or job training. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Senator Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford’s legislation delivers on their promise to Nevadans to lower health care costs and expand coverage for working families. Working families face far too many barriers accessing quality health care and this legislation takes much-needed action to lower costs by expanding access to premium tax credits for middle and low-income families. While Republicans’ continued sabotage raises costs and restricts access to health care, Senator Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford are taking the necessary action to expand access and lower the cost of health care for working families.” 

House Democrats’ Bill A Monumental Step Towards Lower Drug Prices For American Families

Speaker Pelosi, House Democrats Unveil Historic Legislation Today That Will Drastically Lower Drug Prices While Republicans Continue Defending Status Quo 

Washington, DC – Today Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats formally unveiled the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), historic legislation that will drastically lower prescription drug costs and hold insurance companies accountable. Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement in response: 

“The historic legislation tackles head-on one of American families’ biggest concerns: the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. By lifting the ban on Medicare negotiations for lower drug prices and imposing the strongest-yet enforcement measures on big pharma, this bill would take on the drug companies and reduce drug prices for every American – those on Medicare and those who are not. President Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to defend big drug and insurance companies, giving them record-breaking tax breaks, and refusing to support Medicare negotiations — the single most effective reform to lower drug prices.  

“Speaker Pelosi and Democrats are delivering on their pledge to crack down on the rigged system created by drug and insurance companies, and fulfilling their commitment to ensuring that all Americans are able to afford the medicine they need.” 

Protect Our Care Announces $2 Million Campaign Highlighting Members of Congress Keeping Their Promise on Pre-Existing Conditions

The House Education and Leadership Project (HELP) Begins in Ten House Districts, Will Pair Digital Advertising with District Field Teams and Earned Media to Highlight the Fight House Democrats Are Leading to Lower Costs and Protect Health Care From GOP Sabotage

Watch All Ads HERE

Washington, DC — Protect Our Care is launching the House Education and Leadership Project, that will begin with $2 million in new digital ads in the districts of ten newly elected Members of Congress who are leading the fight to protect millions of people with pre-existing conditions, oppose the Trump-Texas lawsuit, lower prescription drug costs, and ensure better care for all Americans. Protect Our Care plans to expand the program to additional districts in the future.

This campaign will make constituents aware of how their newly elected Representative is delivering on their promises to protect care and lower costs. The HELP campaign kicks off just days after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed to repeal our health care if Republicans retake control of the House. The first round of ads highlights the Members who voted for the Protecting Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Act (H.R. 986) and have opposed Trump’s lawsuit which would overturn protections for pre-existing conditions. 

“While President Trump and Congressional Republicans try to rip apart our health care laws and wreak havoc on Americans’ health care, House Democrats have worked nonstop to strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and defend against the Trump administration’s reckless Texas lawsuit,” said Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach. “The House Education and Leadership Project not only highlights the work House Democrats are doing to lower the cost of health care, but also makes a clear contrast between the Republican agenda to raise costs and take away health coverage and Democrats’ commitment to protecting Americans health care.”

The campaign kicks off with a set of 15 and 30 second digital ads on social media platforms, pre-roll and connected devices. The campaign is focused on a discrete set of constituents who have shown to be particularly interested in health care.  

The ads will run in-district for the following members:

Colin Allred (TX-32)

Cindy Axne (IA-03)

Abby Finkenauer (IA-01)

Andy Kim (NJ-03)

Katie Porter (CA-45)

Elissa Slotkin (MI-08)

Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)

Haley Stevens (MI-11)

Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02)

Lauren Underwood (IL-14)

Ad Script: (30 second)

Do you have a family member with a pre-existing condition?

Do you worry about someone you love telling you that they’re diagnosed with cancer?

They’re fighting for their life.

They shouldn’t have to fight their insurance company too.

Representative Colin Allred is keeping his promise to protect health care for people with pre-existing conditions. 

Some in Washington want to let insurance companies deny coverage for millions of Americans with cancer, asthma or diabetes. 

Not Colin Allred.

He is standing up to them and standing up for us.

Protect Our Care is working to provide lower costs and better care for all Americans and leading the fight against Republicans’ ongoing efforts to repeal and sabotage health care, through the HELP project and other efforts. The HELP project is also supported by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 2 million working people, including 1 million nurses, doctors and healthcare workers, who are committed to a vision of affordable healthcare for all.  

Experts and Health Care Advocates: Tennessee’s Trump-Inspired Plan to Block Grant Medicaid Would Devastate Tennesseans’ Health Care

This morning, Tennessee’s Republican governor announced that the state had submitted a plan to convert their Medicaid program into block grants, all at the behest of the Trump administration. Block granting Medicaid is a blatant attempt to gut coverage and kick people off the rolls, and health care experts and advocates were quick to say how damaging and reckless this proposal could be for Tennesseans who rely on Medicaid.

Michele Johnson, Executive Director Of The Tennessee Justice Center, Said That The Proposal Would Be “Devastating For Our Health Care Infrastructure, For The Tennessee Economy, And For Our Communities.” “Michele Johnson, executive director of the Tennessee Justice Center, a group representing vulnerable residents needing health care and other assistance, said the proposed changes to TennCare would be ‘devastating for our health infrastructure, for the Tennessee economy, and for our communities.” [Washington Post, 9/17/19

More Than Two Dozen Health Advocacy Groups Warned CMS That Block Grants “Will Reduce Access To Quality And Affordable Healthcare For Patients With Serious And Chronic Health Conditions.” “Moving to a block grant or per capita cap would also have widespread negative impacts on state economies. Cuts to Medicaid will not only impact those enrolled, but the entire healthcare system, as many critical healthcare entities, such as children’s hospitals, rely on Medicaid financing for their financial stability. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion has led to significant reductions in uncompensated care costs and reduced the likelihood of hospital closures, especially in rural areas – progress that could be lost under block grant and per capita cap policies. Our organizations are concerned that CMS has not adequately considered these negative impacts. Finally, our organizations believe that the Administration does not have the authority to allow states to implement block grants or per capita caps through the 1115 waiver process. The Secretary is not permitted to waive Sections 1903 and 1905, where the financing structure of the Medicaid program is located, through these types of waivers. Such a change would require congressional authority, yet Congress has repeatedly declined to pass legislation on this issue, most recently during the debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Simply put, block grants and per capita caps will reduce access to quality and affordable healthcare for patients with serious and chronic health conditions and are therefore unacceptable to our organizations.” [American Lung Association et. al. letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, 7/18/19

Nashville Tennessean: Governor’s Plan To Implement Block Grant Proposal Would “Almost Certainly” Change Medicaid Coverage. “The whole point of the block grant proposal is that Tennessee officials think they can run their state Medicaid program better than the federal government. If the block grant proposal is enacted, the state government would likely gain control over who is eligible for TennCare and which medications and treatment are covered. State officials could potentially decide to stop paying for a medication that is now covered or start covering a procedure that is currently outside the scope of TennCare.”  [Nashville Tennessean, 8/25/19

University Of Michigan Economist Nicholas Bagley Said Tennessee’s Block Grant Proposal Has “Dubious Policy Merits” And Isn’t “Close” To Being Legal.  “Earlier today, Tennessee released a draft proposal to introduce block grants into its Medicaid program. Setting aside the dubious policy merits of block grants, however, I don’t think the proposal is legal. I don’t even think it’s close.” [The Incidental Economist, 9/17/19

Robin Rudowitz, A Medicaid Analyst At The Kaiser Family Foundation, Said Block Grants Run Counter To “Core Principles” Of Medicaid. “’There are two foundational things in Medicaid—an entitlement for all individuals eligible for coverage, and a guarantee to states of federal matching dollars,’ said Robin Rudowitz, a Medicaid analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘Block grants run counter to both of those core principles.’”  [Modern Healthcare, 5/7/19

Two Major Tennessee Hospital Groups Expressed Concern That Block Grant Proposal Would Weaken Health Insurance For Families. “Two major Tennessee hospital companies say a plan to convert billions of federal Medicaid funding to a block grant may weaken health insurance for poor families or cause TennCare to run out of money during an economic recession. […] For this story, The Tennessean contacted about a dozen Tennessee hospital companies seeking comment from their executives about the block grant proposal. Interviews were conducted with experts at Saint Thomas Health in Nashville and Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis, both of whom expressed concerns, and with the CEO of Ballad Health in East Tennessee, which was supportive.” [Nashville Tennessean, 9/12/19

Republican State Senator And Cardiothoracic Surgeon Richard Briggs Said “A Straight Block Grant Could Be Very Dangerous.” “’A straight block grant could be very dangerous,’ said Briggs, who for the past few years has unsuccessfully pushed for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. ‘If we go into a recession—and we’re due for one—there will be more people going into Medicaid, and the state would have to make up revenues to cover them.’” [Modern Healthcare, 5/7/19

Trump Effect: Tennessee Initiates Disastrous Trump-Backed Plan to Turn Medicaid Into A Block Grant

Washington, DC — Today, the Washington Post reported that Tennessee will be the first state to submit a plan to convert Medicaid into a block grant — a blatant attempt to gut coverage and kick people off the rolls  and done at the direction of the state’s Republican governor and at the urging of the Trump administration. Under Tennessee’s proposal “medical services for children, pregnant women, parents and other core groups of people such as those who are blind and disabled” could be gutted. In response, Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“The multi-pronged attack on Medicaid by Republican governors and the Trump administration should tell you everything about the motives behind this latest plan: kick people off the rolls, tear apart the foundations of the program, and watch Americans who rely on coverage through Medicaid suffer. This push to turn Medicaid into block grants — along with promoting junk plans, working to repeal the ACA, and the reckless Texas lawsuit — is just another front in the Trump-Republican war on health care. Initiating block grants isn’t about improving or reforming health care; it’s about ripping coverage away from more Americans, plain and simple.”