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On the Hill: Rx Drug Pricing Hearings, ACA Reform Bill

The House and Senate held several hearings on pharmaceutical drug pricing before leaving for a two-week recess. Both chambers will return to legislative business on April 29.

In its third hearing in a series on drug pricing, the Senate Committee on Finance focused on the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in the drug supply chain. Representatives from five PBMs shared their processes for negotiating prices with drug manufacturers. The previous hearing in the series included testimony from pharmaceutical executives.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held its second hearing on the soaring price of insulin. Three PBMs and two pharmaceutical companies testified about their pricing practices and gave their respective recommendations on the future pricing of insulin. The previous hearing in the series included testimony from patient advocates, academic researchers, and diabetes stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Ways and Means unanimously approved legislation to improve drug pricing transparency. The Prescription Drug Sunshine, Transparency, Accountability, and Reporting (STAR) Act of 2019 (H.R. 2113) would require certain drug manufacturers to report on increases in drug prices and on product samples provided to certain health care providers. The bill now heads to consideration on the House floor.

ACA Reform Bill Reintroduced

Also before the recess, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reintroduced the Consumer Health Insurance Protection Act (S. 2583), which would bolster consumer protections in private health insurance and improve the affordability of the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces. The bill also includes a provision to reduce balance billing, or surprise medical bills, by notifying patients when their doctors are no longer in-network, and it would prohibit balance billing for emergency care.

Warren and four bill cosponsors, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Cory Booker (NJ), are running for president in the 2020 election.

Urge Your Representatives to Sign Bipartisan Letter to Protect Medicaid DSH 

Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Pete Olson (R-TX), members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, are circulating a bipartisan letter to colleagues calling for a two-year delay of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

America’s Essential Hospitals strongly supports this effort; in a recent Action Alert, the association calls on member hospitals to contact their House representatives and urge them to sign the letter.

Engel and Olson will collect signatures through May 3.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.