Ernst Continues Push to Lower Health Care Costs, Prescription Drug Prices

The Iowa Senator is supporting eight different bills, including three that have advanced out of Senate committees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is continuing her efforts to lower the costs of health care and prescription drugs by helping advance multiple bills, including three pieces of legislation that were approved by committees in the Senate in just the last few weeks.

“The soaring costs of health care, specifically those of prescription drugs, impact all Iowans, but most of all our elderly and those living on a fixed income,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “Addressing these rising prices is one of my top priorities and I am working across the aisle to increase competition, drive down costs, and close loopholes that allow bad actors to take advantage of the system. I’m proud to be pushing the Senate in taking action and helping advance these important bills.”

Senator Ernst has helped introduce and is a cosponsor of the following bills targeting high health care and drug costs:

  • The Lower Health Care Costs Act – A broad, bipartisan package of legislation sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, one of the legislative bodies with primary jurisdiction on the issue. The legislation streamlines the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process of prescription drugs as well as addresses anticompetitive behaviors in the pharmaceutical supply-chain and surprise medical billing. The package includes the Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, a bill Senator Ernst cosponsored that would prevent brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies from stifling competition by blocking the entry of lower-cost generic drugs into the market. [PASSED THE HELP COMMITTEE]
  • The Preserving Access to Cost Effective Drugs (PACED) Act – Removes a loophole in the patenting process which allows manipulators to pay Native American tribes to take “ownership” of their patents, thereby allowing the tribes to claim sovereign immunity and avoid review in the case of a dispute. The PACED Act restores the power of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, federal courts, and the International Trade Commission to review patents regardless of sovereign immunity claims made as part of questionable transactions. [PASSED THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE]
  • Prescription Pricing for the People Act – Requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study the role of pharmacy middle-men in the supply chain and the extent to which they stifle competition and therefore drive-up prices. [PASSED THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE]
  • Drug-Price Transparency in Communications Act – Codifies the Trump Administration’s rule that would require drug companies to disclose their list prices on all direct-to-consumer TV advertising.
  • Phair Drug Pricing Act – Limits all price concessions – fees, incentive payments or price adjustments – between pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to the point-of-sale. This would also require PBMs to disclose the price concessions that they charge pharmacies to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), bringing about more transparency.
  • Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act – This would limit all kickback fees – or Direct and Indirect Remuneration (DIR) fees – to the point of sale on all accurate Medicare Part D claims.
  • Right Rebate Act – This would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from leveraging a regulatory loophole that allows them to misclassify their Medicaid drugs and therefore charge the government more money.
  • Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act – Currently, pharmaceutical companies are engaging in ‘pay-for-delay’ tactics to prevent or delay the introduction of affordable versions of brand-name drugs. This legislation bans the practice of pay-for-delay deals.

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