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U.S. House of Representatives Passes H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act —Statement by Fred Riccardi, President of the Medicare Rights Center

December 12, 2019  
•  Press Releases

Washington, DC — The Medicare Rights Center applauds today’s passage of the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) by the U.S. House of Representatives. This landmark bill would significantly improve health care and prescription drug affordability for people with Medicare.

At Medicare Rights, we understand the need for these reforms. Every day on our national helpline we hear from older adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to pay for care. We have long supported efforts to lower these costs in ways that rein in high and rising drug prices and strengthen the Medicare program.

We commend H.R. 3’s pursuit of these goals, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for certain drugs and restructuring Part D to cap beneficiary out-of-pocket spending at $2,000 a year, reduce the federal government’s liability, and better align pricing incentives throughout the benefit.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, these and other changes would save nearly $500 billion over 10 years. Importantly, H.R. 3 would channel some of these extensive savings back into the Medicare program–achieving monumental coverage and affordability gains. The bill’s transformational investments include provisions that would ease access to Medicare’s low-income assistance programs; establish new Medigap enrollment rights; and add comprehensive dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Part B.

Further, Medicare Rights has been urging lawmakers to modernize the Medicare Part D appeals system as part of any drug pricing package. We are extremely pleased that H.R. 3 includes such improvements.

The bill would introduce much-needed transparency into the appeals process by ensuring federal data collection efforts capture instances of and beneficiary experiences with point-of-sale rejections. Doing so would fill long-standing gaps in knowledge, increase accountability, and inform future policymaking. We welcome these long overdue reforms.

The Medicare Rights Center is pleased to support H.R. 3. The bill’s historic Medicare advancements and investments would help ensure older adults and people with disabilities have meaningful access to affordable health care and prescription drug coverage, now and in the future.

We thank the Office of the Speaker as well as the Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor for working tirelessly to craft these critical policy changes.

Contact: Mitchell Clark – mclark@medicarerights.org

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About Medicare Rights
The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.

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