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Schrader, Peters Unveil Plan to Cut Patients’ Drug Costs and Preserve America’s Ability to Produce Life-Saving Cures

U.S. Representatives Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act (RCCCA) today to lower patients’ prescription drug costs and protect our nation’s ability to find cures. The plan is the first-ever to cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors, address loopholes in the health care system and provide the most generous benefits to the poorest Americans.

“The costs of lifesaving prescription drugs in this country have unsustainably skyrocketed, leaving seniors in Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District and across the country struggling to pay the price and meet their health needs. Addressing this pressing issue has been a top priority of mine in Congress, and the Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act that I am championing with Congressman Peters will make significant strides in driving down drug prices,” Rep. Schrader said. “The broadly supported policies in this legislation include capping seniors’ yearly out-of-pocket costs, opening up opportunities for Medicare to negotiate prices for the most expensive drugs on the market, limiting price increases on drugs that have been on the market for years to the price of inflation, and closing loopholes in the healthcare system that are allowing anti-competitive practices stifle low-cost, generic competition. By addressing these issues and more, our Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act opens a possible bipartisan, bicameral pathway in Congress to immediately begin reducing drug prices to protect the most vulnerable Americans.”

“Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table and filling a prescription. Our plan will drastically lower out-of-pocket drug costs for consumers, as Democrats have promised, while we preserve American jobs and investment in future innovation,” said Rep. Peters. “The Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act eliminates loopholes, promotes competition, and fights the exploitation of patients by placing fair checks on insurers, manufacturers and drug companies. I look forward to working with Congressman Schrader, our cosponsors, and others to make this happen.”

Reps. Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07) and Lou Correa (CA-46) are also original cosponsors of the plan.

Dozens of patient-based organizations, including the Dementia Alliance International (DIA), Chronic Care Policy Alliance, Parkinson & Movement Disorder Alliance, and United Cerebral Palsy National, have voiced strong support for a drug pricing plan that ensures American medical science can continue to quickly develop new cures and treatments for some of the toughest and rarest chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. The Peters, Schrader RCCCA plan meets this requisite, lowering drug costs while preserving America’s unparalleled medical science ecosystem.

“The Alliance for Aging Research supports provisions in the Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act that promote affordability and lower Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, without restricting access to care that patients need now or in the future. This bill shifts the dynamic away from aggressive cost-sharing tactics by payers and puts the emphasis where it should be—on cutting prescription drug costs for patients at the point-of-sale. It includes the lowest OOP cap in Medicare Part D of any current proposal; an option for beneficiaries to evenly smooth out costs over a plan year; MedPAC-recommend changes to restructure the Part D benefit; and would pass through rebate savings to patients by basing cost-sharing on post-rebate drug prices rather than list prices,” said Sue Peschin, President and CEO of the Alliance for the Aging Research. “While we do not support the mechanism used to set prices for some drugs in the bill, we are pleased that it does not rely on methodology repeatedly shown to discriminate against people with disabilities and older adults, which more than 130 organizations have called on Congress to reject. We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors to address our concerns and advance a compromise over the finish line.”

“HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute appreciates the effort to advance an alternative pricing proposal that will not impede investment in innovative drugs and cures.  While there are several elements that we do not support, including its Medicare drug negotiation proposal, it contains several provisions that matter most to patients-how much they actually pay for their drugs at the pharmacy counter. Placing a first ever out-of-pocket annual limit for Medicare Part D beneficiaries will greatly help millions of patients who rely on high-cost drugs.  It also begins to shed a light on the significant role PBMs and rebates play in determining the price of drugs. We look forward to ongoing discussions with the Congress as they seek to help patients afford their prescription drugs while maintaining aggressive drug discovery,” said Carl Schmid, Executive Director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute. 

The Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act:

·       Provides a yearly out-of-pocket cap in Medicare for the expense of prescription drugs for those who need assistance most: 

o   $1200 annual out-of-pocket cap for those at 300 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level;

o   $1800 annual out-of-pocket cap for those at 300 to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; and

o   $3100 annual out-of-pocket cap for those at above 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  

·       Includes a smoothing mechanism that minimizes the impact of prescription drug costs on seniors with fixed incomes by ensuring those with expensive annual drug costs can pay their out-of-pocket expenses throughout the calendar year via monthly installments instead of all at once.

·       Establishes a $50 per month out-of-pocket maximum for insulin.  

·       Bases beneficiary cost-sharing at the pharmacy counter on the post-rebate price of a drug rather than the original list price to further reduce the cost burden on patients.

·       Allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices in Part B for products that no longer have exclusivity and for which there is no competition on the market. 

o   The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can enter negotiations with manufacturers of these products that we have seen to be extraordinarily expensive over the last decade to secure price concessions of between 25 and 35 percent.  

·       Requires greater transparency and increases insurer responsibility for the high cost of drugs.

·       Promotes more low-cost options for patients by bolstering competition in the marketplace. 

·       Prevents drug companies from gaming the system by curbing anti-competitive practices and closing loopholes. 

Bill text is available HERE. A one-pager is available HERE.

 

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