House Committees Hold Hearings on Legislation to Lower Drug Prices

May 07, 2021

The House Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor Committees held hearings this week on drug pricing legislation, including H.R. 3, a bill that would likely shift costs to employers in seeking to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Voters and corporate leaders say drug prices should be a top priority in Congress.  A recent poll shows 50% of voters, including 55% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans, say passing legislation to lower drug prices should be a priority this year in Congress.  This comes after a recent Kaiser survey of corporate leaders from over 300 large private employers found 72% of respondents expressed support for allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for certain high-cost drugs. 

The bills discussed in the hearings include:

  • The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), which enables Medicare to negotiate drug prices and allows employer plans to have access to those prices.

  • The lower Costs, More Cures Act of 2021 (H.R. 19), introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) as an alternative to H.R. 3, which puts caps on prices of drugs like insulin for seniors in the Medicare Part D program.

  • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2021 (H.R. 153), which prohibits drug manufacturers from compensating generic drug manufacturers to delay entry of generics and biosimilars into the market.

Why it's important:  With President Biden’s endorsement for letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and increased pressure from voters and corporate leaders to act on the rising cost of prescription drugs, Congress will likely take action with more substantial health care reform in the coming years.  These reforms will undoubtedly impact employer health care plans.  The American Health Policy Institute will continue to evaluate the intended, and unintended, outcomes of these reforms on the health care benefits offered to employees.