MIL-OSI USA: Frontline Democrats Press House Leadership to Include Prescription Drugs Provisions in Build Back Better Act

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Angie Craig (MN-02)

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Angie Craig (MN-02) led fourteen of her Democratic colleagues in writing a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging immediate action to address the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States. Prescription drug reform was not included in the original framework of the Build Back Better Act released last week. But Craig and her fellow majority-makers from the 2018 class are still fighting for its inclusion in the final legislative text, which is currently being negotiated in Washington. In their letter, the Members called on Leadership to stand up to Big Pharma and provide relief to the American people, who pay the highest drug prices in the world.

“As majority-makers in competitive districts, we promised our constituents that we would come to Washington to fight on their behalf for lower drug prices. We cannot turn back now on our promise to the American people,” the lawmakers wrote.

“With the Build Back Better agenda, we have a perhaps once in a generation opportunity to change the status quo and make good on our promise that no one should have to choose between affording their prescription drugs or food or housing,” the members continued. “The public is on our side. Big Pharma is not.”

Representative Craig was joined in sending the letter by Representatives Colin Allred (TX-32), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Josh Harder (CA-10), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Susie Lee (NV-03), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Susan Wild (PA-07).

The Members’ effort to advance prescription drug reform is supported by a number of stakeholders dedicated to addressing the cost of prescription drugs for hardworking American families, including the AARP, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now and Lower Drug Prices Now.

“Lower drug prices are desperately needed and enormously popular, with 6 out of 7 voters in support,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, which has nearly 38 million members nationwide. “It is a monumental mistake for Congress not to fix what’s fundamentally unfair – that Americans pay three times more for medications than other countries pay. Our elected leaders promised to stand up to Big Pharma, and we thank Congresswoman Craig and the Members of Congress who are working to keep that promise. Voters 50+ are a major force in every election, and they need and expect Congress to act now.”

“On behalf of patients all across this country, we want to thank Congresswoman Craig and these members of Congress who are going to the mat fighting to add Medicare negotiation to lower drug prices back into the Build Back Better plan,” said David Mitchell, cancer patient and founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs Now. “Medicare negotiation is supported by 90 percent of voters who are depending on Congress to deliver years of promises to provide relief to patients struggling to afford their prescription medications. These members know that the moment for action is now to enact meaningful reforms that will fix a rigged system and restore balance to ensure we get the innovation we need at prices we can afford. The fight is not over, and we are proud to stand with these members.”

“Meaningful prescription drug reform to lower the price of prescription drugs for tens of millions of Americans is a critical missing element of the current Build Back Better framework,” said Margarida Jorge, Campaign Director for Lower Drug Prices Now. “Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get this done. To miss it would be both bad policy and bad politics. We are grateful for the leadership of the signers of this letter, and so many other champions in Congress, who understand the urgency of delivering on the long promised relief from sky high prescription drug prices. Now is the time to get this done.”

You can find the full text of the letter here and copied below.

October 31, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C., 20515

The Honorable Steny Hoyer
Majority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C., 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer:

Thank you for your leadership and continued efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs. As majority-makers in competitive districts, we promised our constituents that we would come to Washington to fight on their behalf for lower drug prices. We cannot turn back now on our promise to the American people. We urge you in the strongest terms possible to include legislative language in the Build Back Better Act that will be voted on by the full House to accomplish this.

The pharmaceutical industry has gouged the American public for decades. As a country, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and yet our constituents must often choose between purchasing prescribed medications or putting food on the table. It is unacceptable that anyone in the wealthiest country in the world cannot access the medications they need to stay alive.

With two lobbyists per Member of Congress, we know that Big Pharma is deeply invested in the status quo. Our current system forbids Medicare from negotiating the prices it pays for prescription drugs. As a result, millions of Americans are forced to spend thousands of dollars a year on their medications – or go without.

In many cases, as with insulin, these medications have been on the market for decades. In 1991, a bottle of Humalog insulin cost $21. Today the average list price is over $300. That is inexcusable. In these instances, we are not paying for research and development. By allowing the cost of drugs like insulin to rise year after year, we are financing soaring executive salaries, stock buybacks and outrageous profit margins on the backs of our seniors.

With the Build Back Better agenda, we have a perhaps once in a generation opportunity to change the status quo and make good on our promise that no one should have to choose between affording their prescription drugs or food or housing. The public is on our side. Big Pharma is not.

Soon, we must go back to our districts and explain what we’ve done in Washington to make our constituents’ lives better. We ran on upsetting the status quo and lowering out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs. If we fail, we’ll need to explain to them why we let Big Pharma win, why we let entrenched special interests take precedence over the American people.

You have dedicated your careers to lowering the cost of healthcare. We stand with you in your continued efforts. The moment is now. We must deliver on our promise to lower the amount of money our constituents pay for prescription drugs. We must demonstrate that we work for the American people and not the pharmaceutical industry. Our constituents are counting on us.

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MIL OSI USA News