Alexander: Instead of Perpetual Partisan Argument Over Obamacare, There’s A Surge of Bipartisan Cooperation to Lower Drug Prices

Posted on July 10, 2019

“The question I hear most often is, ‘How can I reduce what Americans pay for health care out of their own pockets?’ And the most obvious out-of-pocket cost for most Americans is what we pay for prescription drugs. …Last month, the Senate health committee passed legislation, by a vote of 20-3, that included fourteen bipartisan provisions to increase prescription drug competition to help more lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs reach patients.” – Chairman Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2019 — U.S. Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that “instead of remaining stuck in a perpetual partisan argument over Obamacare and health insurance, senators are working across party lines to lower the costs of what Americans pay for health care out of their own pockets.”

“The question I hear most often is, ‘How can I reduce what Americans pay for health care out of their own pockets?’ And the most obvious out-of-pocket cost for most Americans is what we pay for prescription drugs. Shirley, from Franklin, Tennessee, is one of those Americans. She wrote me recently saying: ‘As a 71 year old senior with arthritis, I rely on Enbrel to keep my symptoms in check. My copay has just been increased from $95 to $170 every ninety days. At this rate, I will have to begin limiting my usage in order to balance the monthly budget,’” Alexander said in a speech delivered today on the Senate floor.

“There has never been a more exciting time in biomedical research, but that progress is meaningless if patients cannot afford these new lifesaving drugs,” Alexander continued. “Last month, the Senate health committee passed legislation, by a vote of 20-3, that included fourteen bipartisan provisions to increase prescription drug competition to help more lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs reach patients.

“Since January, Senator Murray and I have been working in parallel with Senator Grassley and Senator Wyden, who lead the Senate Finance Committee. They are continuing to work on their own bipartisan bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee also voted on legislation last month to lower the cost of prescription drugs.  And in the House of Representatives, the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Judiciary Committees have all reported out bipartisan bills on the cost of prescription drugs. This is also something President Trump and Secretary Azar are focused on.

“I believe the cost of prescription drug is an area where Congress and the Administration can find common ground to help reduce what Americans pay out of their own pockets for health care,” Alexander concluded.

You can read a full transcript of Alexander’s prepared remarks here.

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