WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is continuing her work to lower health care costs for Iowans. Ernst joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and a number of her colleagues to introduce the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020, which originally passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on a bipartisan 19-9 vote, including all committee Democrats.
Recently, Democrats walked away from the negotiating table at the direction of their party’s leadership and refused to join in the reintroduction of the bipartisan legislation they co-authored for fear of helping Republicans and removing a line of partisan political attack for the November elections.
“Throughout my 99 County Tour, during tele-town halls, or in conversations around the kitchen table with my family members who depend on life-saving medications, Iowans have made it clear that they want to see Congress take action to lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. This issue has been a top priority for me and it’s why I’ve been working across the aisle on a number of proposals. While we’ve made some progress, there’s more work to do,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “COVID-19 has emphasized the need to address health care costs. This is no time for election year politics. Iowans want to see us lower the cost of health care, and I'm committed to working with my colleagues to do just that.”
“Democrats’ election year political games aren’t going to get in the way of our moving forward on behalf of the American people to lower prescription drug prices this Congress,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. “The coronavirus pandemic makes our bipartisan work all the more urgent and necessary. There’s no better time to address the health care affordability than in a public health crisis. With millions of Americans unemployed and facing the threat of coronavirus, affording their prescription medicine should be the least of their concern. Our bill would provide peace of mind to so many Americans. Congress must put politics aside and finally act to lower prescription drug prices in the next coronavirus relief bill.”
Senator Ernst helped pass the CREATES Act through the Senate and get it signed into law, which provides for more competition in the marketplace to help drive down costs.
In addition to the Grassley proposal, Senator Ernst is working on Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) proposal, the Lower Costs More Cures Act, to lower prescription drug prices, bring greater transparency to the prescription drug industry and encourage American ingenuity in the development of new treatments and cures.
Ernst has also helped introduce, cosponsor, or get signed into law the following bills targeting high health care and drug costs:
- The Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act – Prevents brand-name pharmaceutical and biologic companies from stifling competition by blocking the entry of lower-cost generic drugs into the market. [Signed into law]
- The Lower Health Care Costs Act – A broad, bipartisan package of legislation that improves transparency and streamlines the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process of prescription drugs as well as addresses anticompetitive behaviors in the pharmaceutical supply-chain. [Passed the Senate 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 as a way to claim sovereign immunity and avoid federal review in the case of a dispute. [Passed the Senate Judiciary Committee]
- Prescription Pricing for the People Act – Requires the Federal Trade Commission 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 Pricing Act – Requires all price reductions, rebates and cost adjustments negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to be passed along directly to consumers, instead of being pocketed by PBMs.
- Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act – Would prohibit Medicare Part D plan sponsors and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from retroactively reducing payments to pharmacies for reimbursement claims, ensuring that community pharmacists can continue serving Iowans. Limits all kickback fees – or Direct and Indirect Remuneration (DIR) fees – to the point of sale on all accurate Medicare Part D claims, ensuring that community pharmacists can continue serving Medicare beneficiaries.
- Right Rebate Act – Prohibit pharmaceutical companies from leveraging a regulatory loophole that allows them to misclassify their Medicaid drugs and therefore charge the government more money. [Signed into law as a part of H.R.1839]
- Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act – Bans the practice of pay-for-delay deals, which pharmaceutical companies are currently engaging in to prevent or delay the introduction of affordable versions of brand-name drugs.
- The Healthcare PRICE Transparency Act – Codifies the Trump Administration’s two health care price transparency rules that require hospitals and insurers to reveal their low, discounted cash prices and negotiated rates to consumers before they receive medical care.