Unlike Lauren Underwood, Casten Approach to Lowering Prescription Drug Prices Involves Two Bills
On Tuesday morning at the Barrington village hall, Congressman Sean Casten hosted a roundtable discussion on the high costs of prescription drugs.
Where colleague Congresswoman Lauren Underwood touts her Five Point Plan which calls for seven pieces of legislation to be passed and become law, Casten focused on two, one bill that already passed the House, and one he expects to pass in December:
- H.R. 987 – Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act passed May 16 by a 234-183 vote, with 5 Republicans voting in favor
- H.R. 3 – Lower Drug Costs Now Act
The nearly 90 minutes roundtable had an audience between 15-22 people, and while it started 5 minutes late, the discussion was robust.
One of the audience members was a retired pharmaceutical supply manager who provided insight about how drug manufacturing works, and how production for medications is impacted by demand, and equipment regulations to insure the medications are safe.
Prior to the roundtable, the 4th video of Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s (R, TX) “Here’s the Truth” series on H.R. 3 was released through Twitter, and the topic was relevant at the roundtable:
So here’s all the talking points the first four videos in Crenshaw’s “Here’s the Truth” series covered:
- National Institute of Health (NIH) funding
- Impact on Cures (CBO savings included impact on new medications)
- Negotiations and what it really means
- Like the VA
Casten touched upon all of the talking points for H.R. 3 during the roundtable discussion, but did not touch upon the truth discussed by Crenshaw and Congressman Greg Walden.
On the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) savings he shared, he did not share the impact on fewer cures which was also part of the initial review by the CBO.
Additionally, cost impacts as a result of rebates to pharmacy benefits managers (PBM) was confirmed to not be included in H.R. 3.
A theme Casten and audience members said throughout is getting to the complete information for all of the costs impacting prescription drug pricing, and H.R. 2296 (METRICs Act) was suggested, which Casten was unaware.
The outlook, H.R. 3 will be voted on and pass once the Democrats do final tweaking to the bill. Expect it to be passed on nearly straight party-line vote, so H.R. 3 will join the bulk of legislation passed in the House as “partisan” legislation.
Unlike most bills in the House that are passed this way, both President Trump and Senate Republicans want to take action to lower prescription drug prices, and there is the hope something will be accomplished.
S. 2543 is the Senate version of H.R. 3, with differences including but not limited to:
- No “negotiation” between Health and Human Services and pharmaceutical companies of any kind in Senate bill
- Part D out of pocket maximum of $3,100, whereas H.R. 3 caps at $2,000
- PBM rebate reporting covered in Senate bill
Given there is support to address this problem as soon as possible, look for the Senate to pass S. 2543 setting up a House-Senate conference committee and the negotiations between House Democrats and Senate Republicans on “negotiating drug prices” will be the key to determine if a final bill will be signed by President Trump next year.