Senator Advocates Adding Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act to Next COVID-19 Response Package
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) used prescription drug cost burdens carried by Mississippians with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and neurological ailments to argue for including prescription drug pricing reforms in new COVID-19 relief legislation.
Hyde-Smith delivered a floor speech late Wednesday to advocate for the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020 (S.4199). She joined the bill’s author, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other original cosponsors, to press for reforms to help Americans hard pressed to afford life-saving medicines.
“The troubles caused by skyrocketing drug prices are a never-ending source of hardship for Mississippians and people across this entire country. I hear about this issue from constituents more than just about any other issue when I go home,” Hyde-Smith said. “I go to church with people who have to decide if they’re going to buy their drugs or if they’re going to buy food. That is a reality that we live with.”
“Today, the threat of the coronavirus pandemic has only increased concerns about drug pricing. As new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 are being tested and developed, the affordability of prescription drugs is more important than ever,” she said. “Just as much as we need a vaccine or treatment to be discovered, we also need it to be affordable to Americans if we are going to get on the other side of this pandemic.”
In her speech, Hyde-Smith highlighted a family in Fulton that pays more than $2,700 a month for increasingly expensive insulin. She cited a Jackson man who has health insurance but cannot afford a $15,000 copay for the drug to slow his multiple sclerosis. The Senator also discussed the out-of-pocket cost increases for Medicare beneficiaries, and anticompetitive actions that drive up the cost of a prescription for her own mother.
“The American people can’t wait. Every month the Democrats continue to block this vital legislation is another month of thousands of dollars in insulin expenses for the Quinn family in Fulton. Every month delayed is another month that Scott Crawford’s MS advances because he cannot afford his medications. Every month is another month that those neurologists in Jackson will continue to worry about their patients on Medicare who face unlimited expenses due to no out-of-pocket cap,” Hyde-Smith said. “These patients and millions more like them cannot wait until next year or until the coronavirus pandemic passes or until Democrats decide to put the American people over politics.”
The product of more than 18 months of bipartisan negotiations, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act represents a comprehensive approach toward lowering prescription drug prices in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, improving transparency related to pharmaceutical prices and transactions, lowering patients’ out-of-pocket costs, and ensuring greater accountability to taxpayers.
S.4199 would save taxpayers $95 billion, reduce out-of-pocket spending by $72 billion, and reduce premiums by $1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The text of Hyde-Smith’s remarks is available here.