Press Releases

Kuster Votes in Favor of Legislation to Lower Prescription Drug Costs, Protect Access to Healthcare

Washington, DC, May 16, 2019

Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted in favor of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, which passed the House. The legislation includes three bills that would make prescription drugs more affordable by helping lower-priced generic drugs get to market faster and four measures that would safeguard protections for people with pre-existing conditions and increase the number of Americans enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage. The bill is a critical component of the House Democrats’ For the People Agenda.

“People in New Hampshire and across the country made clear in 2018 that they want Congress to work to improve our healthcare system and abandon partisan attacks on their care,” said Kuster. “This legislation will deliver on our promises to the American people by lowering the costs of care and prescription drugs and increasing access to affordable, quality health insurance. These efforts are gaining support from some Republicans in the House and it’s time for Senator McConnell to put the American people ahead of his partisan agenda to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and bring our legislation up for a vote.”

The bipartisan legislative package includes the following drug pricing measures to remove barriers to lower-priced generic drugs getting to market:

  • The CREATES Act:  Currently, certain brand-name manufacturers use tactics to withhold or delay generic manufacturers getting from them the brand drug samples they need to develop their generic products.  This bill establishes a process by which generic manufacturers are able to obtain sufficient quantities of the brand drug samples, thereby blocking these delaying tactics.
  • The Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act:  Currently, brand-name drug manufacturers can enter into a “pay-for-delay” agreement in which the brand-name manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to delay bringing a generic equivalent to market, substantially hurting consumers.  This bill makes these “pay-for-delay” agreements illegal.
  • The BLOCKING Act:  Currently, the first generic applicant to FDA is granted 180 days of market exclusivity, but some generics then fail to move the product to market, called “parking” – thereby blocking other generics from applying to FDA.  This bill allows generics to get to market earlier by changing the rules on “parking.”

The package also includes the following four measures to improve our health care system, reinforce protections for pre-existing conditions, and expand the number of individuals with quality, affordable health coverage:

  • The SAVE Act: This bipartisan bill allocates $200 million to assist interested states in creating their own state-based marketplaces.  State-based marketplaces are outperforming the Federal marketplace, achieving lower premiums and higher enrollment.  This bill empowers states to implement new approaches that lower costs and expand coverage for American families, thereby improving our health care system.
  • The MORE Health Education Act & The ENROLL Act:  These bills restore critical funding for marketplace consumer outreach and enrollment education activities, as well as funding for the Navigator program, both of which the Trump Administration has slashed.  CBO estimates this funding will result in about 500,000 additional enrollees in nongroup quality, affordable coverage and Medicaid each year over the next 10 years.
  • Rescinding the Trump Administration’s Junk Plan Rule:  This bill reinforces the protections for people with pre-existing conditions by revoking the Trump Administration’s rule that promotes the sale of junk plans, which discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and do not cover essential benefits. 

Kuster has been vocal about the need to reduce the costs of prescription drugs and hascalled for the direct negotiation of Medicare Part D with pharmaceutical companies to reduce prices. Kuster has made clear the need to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act and preserve protections for people with pre-existing conditions, introducing the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, which passed the House last week. This legislation would revoke guidance issued by the Trump Administration in October 2018 that encourages states to approve health plans that do not cover preexisting conditions.