Three House committees have approved drug pricing legislation that is a high priority of the House Democratic leadership. Specifically, HR 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019, has been approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the Education and Labor Committee. While the details of the committee-approved bills vary, they generally would require manufacturers of certain prescription drugs to negotiate prices with the Secretary of Health and Human Services or be subject to an excise tax on the sales of those drugs, under a complex framework. The bills also would apply Medicare drug rebates for certain drugs with prices increasing faster than inflation in specific circumstances, and make various changes to the Medicare Part D benefit, including capping beneficiary out-of-pocket spending on drugs. Differences in the bills need to be reconciled before floor consideration, which is targeted for November.
House leadership intends to use the savings from HR 3 – if enacted — to finance an expansion of Medicare benefits, including: HR 4665, the Medicare Vision Act of 2019; HR 4618, the Medicare Hearing Act of 2019; and HR 4650, the Medicare Dental Act of 2019 (all of which have also been approved by the relevant committees).