Blunt Rochester Legislation Included in Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act Passage

The bill included Blunt Rochester’s MORE Health Education Act, reversing ACA marketing and outreach funding cuts

Washington, May 17, 2019 | Kyle Morse (202-695-0494)

Watch Congresswoman Blunt Rochester’s Floor Speech.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, issued the following statement after voting to pass H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. The overall legislation includes Blunt Rochester’s bill, the MORE Health Education Act, which would reverse the 90% funding cut for ACA outreach and marketing. The MORE Health Education Act was also included in the Labor, Health, Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill, which advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee last week.

The House of Representatives also passed the Blunt Rochester amendment to H.R.987 that will force HHS and CMS to release marketing and outreach data within 30 days of enactment.

“Everywhere I go throughout our state, the concern I hear most is about our health care system. Delawareans feel that their prescription drug costs and premiums are too high. Their budgets are stretched, and they are often forced to choose between paying a medical bill or buying necessities like groceries. Many even choose to skip visits to the doctor because of the costs associated with care. By passing the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, we are heeding the call for action and taking a step in the right direction,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “This legislation reverses the Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and lowers the cost of prescription drugs for Delaware families, and I was proud to vote for it on the House floor. As we move forward, I will continue to work alongside my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to advance bold and innovative solutions that lower the cost of health care, increase access for everyone, and improve the quality of care for all.”

This bipartisan omnibus bill includes three bills to lower prescription drug costs by helping lower-priced generic drugs get to market faster and four measures to reinforce the protections for people with pre-existing conditions and expand enrollment in quality, affordable coverage to more Americans.  This bipartisan package invests most of the savings created by the bills promoting generic competition into strengthening our health care system by increasing enrollment in quality coverage and helping interested states set up their own state-based marketplaces, which outperform the Federal marketplace.

Getting more lower-priced generic drugs into the prescription drug market is a key way to create billions of dollars in cost savings for consumers and taxpayers.  For example, in 2017 alone, the entry of generic drugs into the market saved consumers and taxpayers a total of $265 billion.  According to one estimate, the average drug price decreases by 50 percent in the first year of generic entry, with an 80 percent reduction in five years.

The bipartisan legislative package includes the following three key drug pricing measures to remove barriers to lower-priced generic drugs getting to market and competing with brand-name drugs, thereby creating significant savings for consumers:

  • The CREATES Act:  Currently, certain brand-name manufacturers use tactics to withhold or delay generic manufacturers getting from them the brand drug samples they need to develop their generic products.  This bill establishes a process by which generic manufacturers are able to obtain sufficient quantities of the brand drug samples, thereby blocking these delaying tactics.
  • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act:  Currently, brand-name drug manufacturers can enter into a “pay-for-delay” agreement in which the brand-name manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to delay bringing a generic equivalent to market, significantly hurting consumers.  This bill makes these “pay-for-delay” agreements illegal.
  • The BLOCKING Act:  Currently, the first generic applicant to FDA is granted 180 days of market exclusivity, but some generics then fail to move the product to market, called “parking” – thereby blocking other generics from applying to FDA.  This bill allows generics to get to market earlier by changing the rules on “parking.”

The bipartisan legislative package also includes the following four measures to improve our health care system by revoking the Junk Plan rule, thereby reinforcing protections for pre-existing conditions; expanding the number of individuals with quality, affordable coverage; and helping more states create state-based marketplaces:

  • The SAVE Act: This bipartisan bill appropriates $200 million to assist interested states in creating their own state-based marketplaces.  State-based marketplaces are outperforming the Federal marketplace, achieving lower premiums and higher enrollment.  This bill empowers states to implement new approaches that lower costs and expand coverage for American families, thereby improving our health care system.
  • The MORE Health Education Act & The ENROLL Act:  These bills, containing provisions similar to provisions in the bipartisan Alexander-Murray proposal put forward in the Senate in the last Congress, restore critical funding for marketplace consumer outreach and enrollment education activities, as well as critical funding for the Navigator program, both of which the Trump Administration has slashed.  CBO estimates this funding will result in about 500,000 additional enrollees in nongroup quality, affordable coverage and Medicaid each year over the next 10 years.
  • Rescinding the Trump Administration’s Devastating Junk Plan Rule:  This bill reinforces the protections for people with pre-existing conditions by revoking the Trump Administration’s rule that promotes the sale of junk plans, which discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and do not cover essential benefits.  A recent KFF poll finds that, by 53% to 37%, Republicans oppose junk plans.


Stay Connected

Use the form below to sign up for my newsletter and get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.

Office Locations