Category

Capitol Hill

Senator Klobuchar to Headline Virtual Rally for Standing Up to Big Pharma and Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices 

***VIRTUAL RALLY ON SEPTEMBER 14 AT 4:00 PM ET // 3:00 PM CT***

Senator Klobuchar to Headline Virtual Rally for Standing Up to Big Pharma and Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Will Join Health Care Storytellers and Advocates from Across the Country To Show the Growing Momentum for Keeping Medicare Negotiation in Upcoming Budget Legislation

Washington, DC — On Tuesday, September 14 at 4:00 PM ET // 3:00 PM CT Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will headline a virtual rally with Protect Our Care to illustrate the growing momentum for giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. Health care advocates from across the country will share their personal stories and demonstrate the dire need for lawmakers to take action to lower drug prices. Voters across the political spectrum agree Medicare negotiation is a critical step to lower drug costs and improve care for all Americans. 

The event comes as Congress is closing in on a budget agreement that will transform the lives of American families nationwide. President Biden and Democrats are leading the charge to include Medicare negotiation and other key health care priorities in the Build Back Better package, but the fight is not over: Big Pharma is ramping up its lobbying and scare tactics to protect its profits and lie to the American people. This rally will make clear that Democrats will not cower to the demands of drug companies and will deliver on their promises to the American people. 

Virtual Rally:

WHO:
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Iesha Meza, patient storyteller from Arizona
Travis Paulson, patient storyteller from Eleveth, Minnesota
Mindy Salango, Type 1 diabetic and patient storyteller from Morgantown, West Virginia
Nedra Fortson, Executive Director of Samaritan Clinic and nurse practitioner from Georgia
Jay Gupta, Director of Pharmacy at Harbor Care in New Hampshire
Dustin Klein, patient storyteller from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care

WHAT: Virtual Rally for Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices 

WHERE: Watch the Event Here

WHEN: Tuesday, September 14 at 4:00 PM ET // 3:00 PM CT

Energy and Commerce Committee Takes Pivotal Step To Close The Coverage Gap & Expand Health Care To Millions

Millions of Americans Stand To Gain Coverage

Washington, D.C.– Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released legislative text for one of the most pressing priorities in health care: closing the Medicaid coverage gap. Nationwide, millions of adults in 12 states lack insurance coverage because of Republican leaders’ refusal to expand Medicaid. This includes older adults, people with disabilities, and working families. The vast majority of those stuck in the coverage gap are people of color. This legislation would ensure all of these individuals have access to affordable coverage. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Democrats are delivering on their promises to lower health costs and improve care. In most states, Medicaid expansion is a lifeline; it reduces racial disparities in health care, creates healthier communities and strengthens economies. Closing the coverage gap is the single most important thing Congress can do to address the inequities laid bare by the pandemic. This legislation will drive down uninsured rates in states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia, where we’ve seen devastating health care outcomes simply because patients cannot afford care. We commend Chairman Pallone and all the Democrats on the committee for their hard work to improve health care access for our nation’s most vulnerable.” 

Background:

Closing The Coverage Gap Will Expand Access To 5.8 Million Uninsured Americans In Non-Expansion States. The Energy and Commerce Committee’s plan to close the Medicaid coverage gap through establishing federal Medicaid programs in non-expansion states and reducing health care premiums through reinsurance programs would drop the number of uninsured Americans by nearly 6 million people. These provisions and making the American Rescue Plan Act subsidies permanent would decrease uninsured Black individuals by 33.5 percent, Latino/Hispanic individuals by 15.7 percent, Asian/Pacific Islander individuals by 16.7 percent, and American Indian and Alaskan Natives by 23.6 percent. 

Medicaid Expansion Saves Lives

Expansion Increases Access To Preventive Care And Life Saving Treatments. Through Medicaid expansion, uninsured adults can gain access to preventive care and treatments such as colon cancer screenings, affordable diabetes medication, and mental health and addiction treatment

Medicaid Improves Health Outcomes And Reduces Mortality. A study published in the Journal of Health Economics found that Medicaid expansion reduced mortality in people aged 20 to 64 by 3.6 percent. Medicaid expansion also saved the lives of 19,200 older adults aged 55 to 64 between 2014 and 2017. At the same time,15,600 older adults died prematurely as a result of their states’ decision not to expand the program.

Medicaid Expansion Reduces Income Inequality and Lowers Health Costs

Reduced Income Inequality And Medical Debt. Medicaid expansion under the ACA caused a “significant” reduction in poverty and reduced income inequality across the board by 5.3 percent. In states that have expanded Medicaid, the chance of accruing medical debt is 20 percent lower than non-expansion states. Additionally, a 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research analysis found that Medicaid expansion led to a nearly $6 billion decline in unpaid medical bills and to higher credit scores.

Democrats Remain Laser-Focused on Health Care During August Recess

Washington, DC — Today, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a memo outlining their priorities for the August recess. The memo makes clear Democrats are laser-focused on advancing American health care, including by lowering prescription drug costs and insurance premiums and expanding access to affordable coverage on the ACA marketplaces, while Republicans remain opposed to these highly popular reforms. 

The memo comes just days before Protect Our Care kicks off its 19-state bus tour in Bangor, Maine, which will promote the work of President Biden and dozens of Democratic lawmakers who are leading the charge to lower health costs, expand coverage, and reduce racial disparities in care. In response to the memo, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“The Democratic plan to focus on health care during the August recess reflects the fact that poll after poll shows that health care is the number one issue for voters. Just like in previous election cycles, health care will be a deciding issue in 2022. Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kicking off next week will drive home the message that Democrats are delivering on their promises to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums while Republicans continue to oppose legislation to improve care and lower costs for the American people.” 

From the memo:

Democrats will highlight how we are lowering costs like health care for the American people: 

  • Thanks to President Biden and Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, 4 out of 5 people enrolled in a marketplace plan can now buy health care for $10 or less per month. Now, Democrats are fighting to make those premium reductions permanent – lowering millions of American families’ monthly health care costs — along with proposals that would further reduce the cost of health care, prescription drugs and expenses like elder care and child care.  
  • Since the Biden administration opened a special enrollment period because of the pandemic, more than 2 million Americans have signed up for health insurance since February.
  • Even in the midst of the pandemic, Republicans have continued their efforts to roll back, weaken and eliminate the Affordable Care Act — attempting to spike costs and gut coverage protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Democrats believe that every single American should have access to quality, affordable care.

Democrats’ Budget Agreement Includes Historic Health Care Investments That Will Transform the Lives of Millions of Americans

This week, Senate Democrats unveiled a $3.5 trillion proposed FY2022 Budget Resolution framework that would make historic investments in Americans health care. The proposal, which has the strong support of President Biden, lowers the cost of prescription drugs, expands Medicare benefits to include vision, dental and hearing, closes the Medicaid coverage gap, and extends the premium reductions under the American Rescue Plan so millions of people can continue to afford their coverage. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“After years of Republican efforts to rip away health care, the health care principles outlined in the Senate Democrats’ budget resolution framework represent a huge milestone in the fight for affordable care. Under the leadership of President Biden, Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to meaningfully improve the health and well-being of millions of Americans, and as we come out of this pandemic, improving access to care could not be more urgent. This framework demonstrates that Democrats are committed to delivering on their promises for the American people. Well done.” 

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 53 percent of American adults, or roughly 130 million people, take prescription drugs in the U.S. and stand to benefit from legislation to lower drug prices. 
  • Nearly 38 million traditional Medicare enrollees would gain vision, dental, and hearing coverage. 
  • More than 2 million uninsured people stuck in the coverage gap would get access to quality, affordable insurance.
  • 4.2 million uninsured people would gain coverage if the American Rescue Plan’s subsidies are made permanent, and millions more would continue to save on health care costs.

NEW REPORT: Closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap in Georgia

New Report Outlines Urgent Need for Federal Approach to Provide Relief to Millions of People Who Have Been Locked Out of Coverage

Report Comes After Sen. Warnock Released Bold Legislation for the Federal Government to Close the Coverage Gap

Washington, DC — Today, Protect Our Care is releasing a report on the impacts of the Coverage Gap in Georgia, one of 12 states that refuse to expand Medicaid. Americans with low incomes should not be forced to go without health coverage simply because they live in a state that has refused Medicaid expansion. According to the report, nearly 646,000 Georgians could gain coverage if Medicaid were expanded.

However, despite hundreds of billions of dollars in financial incentives in the American Rescue Plan, state leaders continue to stand in the way of expansion, leaving hundreds of thousands of Georgia families without access to quality, affordable care. 

In response to Republican inaction in states like Georgia, President Biden and Congressional Democrats are working to bypass state governments who refuse to do the right thing. Just this week, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced legislation creating a federal solution to finally expand Medicaid coverage to millions of people stuck in the coverage gap.

The POC report comes after leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, which includes the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), joined more than 60 of their colleagues on a letter advocating for closing the coverage gap through the American Families Plan.

“For too long leaders in Georgia and the other non-expansion states have put politics over people, refusing to strengthen public health by expanding Medicaid. And this robust report details how the nearly 275,000 Georgians who are in the coverage gap and the 500,000 Georgians who would be eligible for Medicaid have paid the highest price for these decisions,” Senator Reverend Warnock said. “This timely report underlines the urgency with which Congress must act to ensure hardworking people with low-incomes have access to affordable health care, and I’m going to keep pushing the Senate hard to include my legislation to close the coverage gap and provide affordable health care to millions of Georgians and Americans in the next recovery package.”

“Waiting for the Republican leaders in Georgia and the 11 other states that refuse to expand Medicaid to change course is no longer a viable option,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “By refusing to expand Medicaid in their state, Georgia Republican lawmakers are denying coverage to their most vulnerable populations, including thousands of Georgians of color. Despite the overwhelming benefits of Medicaid expansion, and even with the additional incentives included in the American Rescue Plan, Republicans have put politics over people by continuing to reject the program. Senator Warnock and Congressional Democrats are now leading with a bold new approach for the federal government to close the expansion gap, and Congress must take action now to make it a reality.”

Read the new report on closing the coverage gap in Georgia here.

Read the previous reports on Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina. Texas, and Wisconsin.

Protect Our Care Praises Senator Warnock’s Legislation To Close The Medicaid Coverage Gap

Senator Warnock’s Legislation Would Expand Coverage To Millions, Including 2.4 Million People of Color

Washington, DC — Today, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced legislation creating a federal solution to expand Medicaid coverage to millions of people stuck in the coverage gap in 13 states where Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid. Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach praised the legislation in a statement:

“Medicaid expansion reduces racial disparities in health care, creates healthier communities and strengthens economies. It is the single most important thing Congress can do to address the racial inequities laid bare by the pandemic. If we fail to expand Medicaid, we fail millions of people,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Congress must close the coverage gap once and for all. People of color, women, children, older adults, people with disabilities and so many more will benefit from this legislation, and we commend Senator Warnock’s leadership in ensuring better access to care.” 

HEADLINES: House Report Highlights Drugmaker Greed, Need for Congressional Action to Lower Drug Costs

Yesterday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a report detailing how large pharmaceutical corporations have used skyrocketing drug prices to line the pockets of CEOs and investors, while spending billions less on research and development. Specifically, between 2016 and 2020, 14 leading drugmakers spent $577 billion on stock buybacks and dividends—$56 billion more than what was invested in research and development over the same period. One company, Amgen, spent nearly six times more on executive pay, buybacks, and dividends than it did on research and development in 2018. If allowed to continue on this trajectory, these 14 corporations are projected to spend $1.15 trillion on buybacks and dividends between 2020 and 2029 — more than twice of what H.R. 3 is projected to save over the same period. 

The report also revealed that when these drugmakers did invest in research and development, many spent large portions of their budget developing methods to suppress generic and biosimilar competition that would make life saving drugs more affordable for the American people. 

This Oversight Committee’s report underscores the urgent need for Congress to take action now to  pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices.. 

HEADLINES:

STAT News: House Democrats Say Pharma Stock Buybacks And Dividends Exceed R&D Spending. “Assuming the same rate of spending going forward, the drug makers are projected to spend $1.15 trillion on buybacks and dividends from 2020 through 2029. This would exceed by more than twice the amount that the Congressional Budget Office projected would be saved over the same period by a House bill – called H.R. 3 – that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for certain drugs.” [STAT News, 7/8/21]

Kaiser Health News: Drugmakers’ Spending on Stock, Dividends and Executive Pay Exceeds Research, Democrats Say. “Contrary to pharmaceutical industry arguments that large profits fund extensive research and innovation, the major drug companies plow more of their billions in earnings back into their own stocks, dividends and executive compensation. And they can do it largely because Congress has imposed few restrictions on their pricing in the United States — including in the Medicare program, which is not permitted to negotiate drug prices.” [Kaiser Health News, 7/9/21]

The Hill: House Report: Drug Companies Spent More On Buybacks, Dividends Than Research. “Democrats sought to push back on the pharmaceutical industry’s argument that the bill would harm innovation, saying that drug companies could simply cut back on payouts to shareholders, rather than cutting research and development.” [The Hill, 7/8/21]

Bloomberg: Pelosi Slams Drugmaker Buybacks, Wants Price Cuts In Bill. “The House Democratic bill would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and then force drug companies to lower the prices they charge private insurers or impose huge fines on the companies. Pelosi said she wants it to be part of a special budget bill.” [Bloomberg, 7/8/21]

Fierce Healthcare: House Dems’ Report Slams Drugmaker Stock Buybacks As Pelosi Presses To Give Medicare Negotiating Powers. “Democratic leadership slammed drugmakers’ most common defense that pricing reforms will lead to fewer new innovations. ‘How can pharma say with a straight face after spending $577 billion on buybacks and dividends in the last five years that lowering drug prices for Americans will have to come at the expense of research and development?’ said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” [Fierce Healthcare, 7/9/21]

Endpoints News: Pelosi Threatens To Slide Drug Pricing Reform Into Biden’s Budget Bill, Rejects Industry Pushback That Innovation Would Suffer. “From 2016 to 2020, the companies spent $56 billion more on stock buybacks and dividends — $577 billion — than on R&D, the report found. The projected number of spending on buybacks from 2020 to 2029 is $1.15 trillion for the same 14 companies.” [Endpoints News, 7/9/21]

NEW: Protect Our Care Announces “Lower Rx Summer” as Part of Its Campaign to Reduce Drug Prices

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) and Leaders from AARP and Little Lobbyists Joined Protect Our Care To Announce Summer of Action to Reduce Drug Prices for All Americans

Lower Rx Summer Will Include Themed Weeks, Ad Campaigns, National and State Events and a Nationwide Tour in August

Watch the Event Here.

Washington D.C.– Today on a press call with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) , Nancy LeaMond of AARP, and Elena Hung of Little Lobbyists, Protect Our Care announced a “Lower Rx Summer” as part of The Campaign to Reduce Drug Prices. Lower Rx Summer will consist of themed weeks of action to demonstrate the urgent need for legislation to lower drug prices principally by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices for all Americans. 

In the coming months, President Biden and members of Congress have an unprecedented opportunity to finally take action to lower drug prices. In 2019, House Democrats passed the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), bold legislation to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug costs — the single most effective measure to bring down drug prices. In April, Rep. Pallone reintroduced this legislation, giving Congress another opportunity to lower prescription drug costs, and meet the demands of voters. Big Pharma has taken notice and is spending millions to spread lies about H.R. 3 and stop any meaningful reform. Protect Our Care will be reminding Americans just what’s at stake in the fight to bring down drug prices. 

Throughout the summer, Protect Our Care will hold virtual and in-person events with allies, advocates, storytellers and elected officials and release new reports to illustrate the devastating impact of high drug prices on American families. Lower Rx Summer will include research, paid and earned media, and grassroots and grasstops engagement. It will be capped off by a national tour in August. The effort will focus substantially on lifting up the stories of Americans of all walks of life struggling to afford the high cost of prescription drugs, and especially those suffering from life-altering diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.    

“We need to continue to raise awareness about the importance of passing H.R. 3 and the need to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. Prescription drug prices are out of control, and it’s only getting worse,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06).  “Americans pay more than any other country in the world for the exact same medications. And even at the height of the pandemic and the global economic crisis, Big Pharma increased their prices on over 300 drugs in the United States at the beginning of the year. It’s time that we empower the federal government to negotiate fair prescription drug prices.”

“On behalf of AARP’s 38 million members and all older Americans, AARP is calling on Congress to pass comprehensive prescription drug reform,” said Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer at AARP. “Every day, we hear about the tough decisions older Americans face as drug prices continue to skyrocket. Medicare beneficiaries, on average, take between four and five prescription medications each month and have a median income of almost $30,000 a year. They simply can’t afford skyrocketing prescription drug prices. The time for action is now.”

“Many of our families rely on the innovation and development of life-saving medications to treat and sustain our children with complex medical needs and disabilities. Those medications, however, are only life-saving if the patient can afford them,” said Elena Hung, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Little Lobbyists. “Therefore, we call on Congress to give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices so our families can access the life-saving medications our children need to survive and thrive.” 

“Protect Our Care is embarking on this journey because millions of people are struggling to afford lifesaving medications. As drug companies are raking in record profits, Americans are facing impossible choices between affording medications and paying rent or putting food on the table. And despite everything this country has been through during the pandemic, Big Pharma recently hiked the prices of more than 1,000 medications — not because of any new innovation, but because they could,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “The time to put an end to Big Pharma’s greed is now. The momentum is with us: nine out of 10 Americans agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans. Seniors, women, children, communities of color, and everyone purchasing prescription drugs stand to benefit from this policy. This summer, Protect Our Care will make sure people know which of their elected officials are supporting efforts to bring down drug prices, and which ones are committed to protecting Big Pharma’s profits.”

Later this month, Protect Our Care will launch digital ads in 13 target states: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Themed Weeks for Lower Rx Summer

Week 1 (June 7): The Skyrocketing Price of Prescription Drugs

Week 2 (June 14): Pushing Back on Big Pharma’s Lies

Week 3 (June 21): How High Drug Prices Hurt Seniors

Week 4 (June 28): How High Drug Prices Hurt Women

Week 5 (July 5): How High Drug Prices Hurt People with Disabilities

Week 6 (July 12): How High Drug Prices Hurt People of Color

Week 7 (July 19): How High Drug Prices Hurt Small Businesses

Week 8 (July 26): How High Drug Prices Hurt Children

Prescription Drug Reform Must Include Medicare Negotiation

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans Support Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate for Lower Drug Prices

Washington, D.C. — News reports have indicated that a small group of lawmakers in the House are walking back their commitment to giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans. This comes as Big Pharma is breaking records for the money it’s spending on lobbyists to block any meaningful legislation to lower prices for patients. Meanwhile, President Biden reiterated his commitment to allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices just last month. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“It is outrageous that Medicare — the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the country — is banned from negotiating prices on behalf of the American people. The ban on negotiation was put in place by Republicans at the behest of big drug companies to protect their profits, and now Democrats have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse course. No matter what other policies lawmakers support to lower drug costs, giving Medicare the power and the teeth to negotiate for lower drug prices is the key to getting the job done. Anything else is a sham. No policy could do more to meaningfully bring down drug prices. And despite Big Pharma’s PAC contributions and bogus claims, nearly 90 percent of Americans across the political spectrum support Medicare negotiations. The House passed H.R. 3 last year and the Speaker and House leaders have said they will do it again, and everyone who truly cares about lowering drug prices should be fighting for and not against H.R. 3.” 

BACKGROUND

Protect Our Care recently launched The Campaign to Reduce Drug Prices with an ad running on television nationally and digitally in 12 key states to demonstrate the urgent need for comprehensive legislation to lower drug prices

NEW MORNING CONSULT POLL: Top 2 Issues Are Health Care Costs & Drug Costs

According to the new Morning Consult/Politico national survey, the top two issues that people think Congress should prioritize are ‘reducing health care costs’ and ‘passing a bill to bring down prescription drug costs.’ Both have more than 85% of voters saying they are a priority and include strong support from Independents and Republicans

TOP TWO ISSUES

Reducing health care costs: 88% (59% top priority)

– 87% (63% top priority) with Independents

– 83% (50% top priority) with Republicans

 

Passing a bill to bring down prescription drug costs: 85% (50% top priority)

– 82% (48% top priority) with Independents

– 82% (46% top priority) with Republicans

 

OTHER ISSUES

Stimulating the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic: 84% (59% top priority)

Reducing the federal budget deficit: 77% (41% top priority) 

Passing a health care reform bill: 76% (47% top priority)

Passing an immigration reform bill: 71% (39% top priority)

Passing an infrastructure spending bill: 70% (34% top priority)

Passing a bill to address climate change and its effects: 65% (37% top priority)

Passing a bill to reduce inequality: 61% (34% top priority)

Passing legislation placing additional restrictions on gun ownership: 60% (36% top priority)

Regulating tech companies: 57% (22% top priority)

Passing a bill to provide relief to Americans with student loan debt: 54% (24% top priority)

Eliminating the filibuster in the Senate: 48% (22% top priority)

Passing a bill to legalize marijuana: 43% (19% top priority)