With Slotkin support, House passes landmark prescription drug legislation

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U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) voted to pass a landmark prescription drug bill today that would drive down the cost of prescription drugs by allowing the U.S. government to negotiate for lower prices on the most expensive drugs, ensuring Americans never pay more than the average of the cost of a drug in other countries like ours, and capping out of pocket costs for seniors. Slotkin’s own Medicare Vision Act, which adds corrective vision coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, also passed as part of the bill, as did measures to include hearing and dental coverage.

You can download footage of Slotkin’s speech on the House floor here.

Lowering prescription drug prices has been a top priority of Slotkin’s since taking office. Slotkin founded constituent-led district advisory boards made up of seniors, patients, doctors, nurses, and healthcare experts to help inform legislation that best addresses 8th district residents’ concerns, and has undertaken a district-wide “Costs of Care” tour to understand how the costs of prescription drugs and healthcare are affecting 8th district residents.

“For the last two years, the single most common issue that Michiganders raised with me is the price of prescription drugs – and Michiganders, regardless of party, are demanding that Congress do something about it,” Slotkin said in remarks on the House floor. “Today we passed a bill, the Lowering Drug Costs Now Act, that will drive down the cost of the country’s most expensive drugs by allowing our government to negotiate for the very best prices.”

“There are over 800,000 Michiganders living with diabetes and common insulin medications can cost somewhere between $1,200 and $20,000 per year,” Slotkin continued. “This includes Sarah, a woman who lives in Holly, Michigan, where I live, who says she’s being priced out of her life. Her monthly insulin costs are higher than her rent. This bill, if passed, would allow the government to negotiate to bring down the price of insulin to as little as $400 a year.”

H.R. 3 would save the U.S. government $500 billion — much of which will be reinvested into cutting-edge research into life-saving cures, including $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which will be used to support research on the several thousands of rare diseases without a treatment, the Cancer Moonshot, the Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project, and more. The bill saves taxpayers $5 billion, which will be used to pay down the federal debt.

Details on H.R. 3:

Establishes a fair price drug negotiation program to reduce the cost of certain high-priced drugs, including insulin, without competition. 

• Just like private parties negotiate to get the best possible deal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be empowered to negotiate the price of up to 250 drugs per year, drawn from a refilling list of the most costly drugs in the U.S. that do not face competition.

• To ensure negotiations produce real price reductions, H.R. 3 ensures that Americans will never pay more than the average of what a negotiated drug costs in other countries.

• This would drive down the cost of common drugs in Michigan:

• 864,882 people in Michigan live with diabetes (9.8% of Michigan residents). For the most commonly used insulin medications, Michigan residents spend anywhere from $1,200 to $20,000 annually. Under H.R. 3, some commonly used insulins can cost as little as $400 per year.

• About 10.8% or 837,016 Michigan residents live with asthma. H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most asthma drugs from about $1,400 to $270 per year.

• 27 percent of Michigan residents have arthritis, 30.5 percent of whom experience severe joint pain because of it. H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most arthritis drugs from about $40,000 to $10,000 per year.

• Creates a new, $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs, adding an important protection for Medicare beneficiaries.

• With the increasing number of high-cost specialty drugs, many beneficiaries find that just one medicine can cost thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

• According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-third of American adults report that they or a family member have not filled a prescription, rationed medication below their prescribed dose, or skipped doses altogether because they could not afford the full cost.

•  Includes Slotkin’s bill to provide comprehensive vision care as part of Medicare, as well as measures to include dental and hearing coverage for the first time.

• H.R. 3 adds new vision benefits to Medicare Part B that would cover routine eye exams, contact lens fitting services, and glasses or contact lenses once every two years.

• An estimated 20.5 million Medicare beneficiaries have vision problems, yet only 57% said they had received an eye examination during the previous year.

• Medicare does not provide vision coverage for 88% of beneficiaries in Michigan’s

• Bolsters funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investing over $10 billion with the goal of accelerating the search for the next big scientific breakthrough.

• Invests $10 billion of direct funds toward the national opioid epidemic over the next five years.

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The Livingston Post is the only locally owned, all-digital information and opinion site in Livingston County, Mich. It was launched by award-winning journalists who were laid off from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus by Gannett Co. Inc. in 2009.

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