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Senior Republican Speaks in Opposition to Partisan Drug Pricing Bill Before the House Rules Committee

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Washington, December 17, 2019 | comments
The Times USA

Last Week, the leading Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following remarks at the House Rules Committee hearing on H.R. 3, Speaker Pelosi’s Fewer Cures Act.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole.

“At the start of this year, Speaker Pelosi pledged to us and to the American people ‘that this Congress will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying.’

“Yet I come here today, before this historic Committee, again having to oppose legislation that was written in secret. A bill that is sorely partisan. And one that is dividing Members in both caucuses. 

“At its core, H.R. 3, the Fewer Cures Act will harm patients and set back medical breakthroughs.

“It has zero chance of becoming law, and its consideration alone this week adds weight to an unproductive year of Congress choosing to write press releases instead of laws.

“What we are debating here is a dangerous trade-off for the American people: lower drug prices in the short-term for fewer lifesaving cures and treatments in the long term.

“This is a terrible choice, one that we shouldn’t have to debate. If this bill were to become law – which it won’t – it will destroy life-saving medical breakthroughs while harming patients and lowering the life expectancy of older Americans.

“The Congressional Budget Office concedes this bill will reduce cures in the future – that’s not up for debate anymore. The only question is how many cures will be lost.

“Some believe it may run well over one hundred lost cures.

“But one cure lost is one too many.

“For seniors in our districts struggling with ALS and Parkinson’s, House Democrats are telling them in this bill that a cure is worth being put on hold to have temporary savings in the short term.

“Additionally, Democrats are billing H.R. 3 to the American people by saying, ‘we’re just letting the government negotiate prices.’

“The reality is far different. H.R. 3 does not create negotiation, but coercion.

“Government price-setting leads to patient access restrictions, resulting in fewer and delayed treatments. Instead of working toward a cure to end cancer, H.R. 3 tells drug creators to make eyelash extensions.

“It also empowers foreign Bureaucrats to set prices for American patients. We know from experience that fewer new medicines are available when governments set the cost.

“H.R. 3 also scraps bipartisan consensus. If there is any question of whether or not Democrats are For the People or For the Politics, they are showing their colors loud and clear with this bill.

“Not to mention, this bill is potentially unconstitutional.

“An analysis by Congressional Research Service cautioned that H.R. 3’s provisions limiting drug prices could run afoul of the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause as well as the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause.

“Chairman Neal, you and I put our names a proposal this summer to lower drug prices.

“Our staffs were making great progress, and it seemed like nearly every Member on the Ways and Means Committee had ideas they were eager to debate that would lower drug prices and stand chance of becoming law.

“Speaker Pelosi told Democrats to throw that work away. There are over 40 bipartisan drug policies that are ready to become law. This dangerous legislation ignores all of them.

“Which is why Republicans are introduced H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. It has policies drawn from the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Senate Finance, and Senate HELP committees.

“But let me be clear: we’re not offering H.R. 19 as a Republican alternative. Rather, we are asking that this be the House plan that moves forward.

“H.R. 19 uses bipartisan and bicameral reforms to lower out-of-pocket spending, protect access to new medicines and cures, strengthen transparency and accountability, and champion competition.

“We encourage innovation. Our bill seeks to have America be the place where groundbreaking new cures are discovered.

“It promotes more low-cost options for patients. And it curbs how drug companies can game of the system.

“For the first time ever, we place a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs and allow seniors to manage their annual out-of-pocket spending.

“We also take steps to make common and needed drugs, like insulin, more affordable.

“The bill also promotes accountability. We increase transparency and remove uncertainty at the pharmacy counter for patients.

“Costs are also cut in H.R. 19. We slash the expenses of drug administration, including cancer treatment, for Medicare beneficiaries by as much as half.

“It also puts a halt to subsidizing other developed countries’ health care through stronger trade agreements.

“And, most importantly, it’s the only House proposal out there that can garnish the President’s signature.

“Making drugs more affordable is a bipartisan priority. And Republicans have worked hard all year toward achieving that goal.

“Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole, let’s end this year on a bipartisan note. Let’s reject H.R. 3 and work to get H.R. 19 signed into law.

“Patients are counting on us to get this done. Thank you.”

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