Washington, DC – The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) provided statements for the record ahead of two hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives focused on lowering the cost of health – the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health hearing, “Negotiating a Better Deal: Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs” and the Committee on Education and Labor, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, “Lower Drug Costs Now: Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care.”
“ERIC applauds House leaders for focusing on ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs. When competition and the marketplace are not functioning, the government needs to step in, so Americans are no longer held hostage by high drug prices,” said James Gelfand, Senior Vice President of Health Policy, ERIC.
ERIC’s statements highlighted policies in the “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (H.R. 3) that large employers – like ERIC member companies – could support to lower drug costs for employers and consumers. Employers are interested in meaningful negotiations on the costs of drugs that lack sufficient competition, provided that self-insured, employer-sponsored plans can take advantage of the negotiated prices in order to protect patients in employer-based plans from higher costs.
ERIC did caution lawmakers that any legislation must also include “inflation caps” to protect the private sector – not just Medicare – from branded drug prices that rise faster than the economy grows.
ERIC’s comments also supported policies in the House minority’s alternative proposal, H.R. 19, but called on lawmakers to address specific issues within the bill, including:
• Reform the drug supply chain. Employers support reform of the drug supply chain, specifically regarding the pharmacy benefit management industry.
• Enact true transparency on drug prices. Consumers and purchasers have a right to know actual drug costs – not just copays.
• End international freeriding. It is unfair and unsustainable that Americans are required to shoulder the entire world’s costs to support drug research and development.
• Lower drug costs, don’t just shift them to employers. The underlying drivers of drug costs must be addressed for real change to happen; employers will not support efforts to artificially cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs, forcing all beneficiaries to pay higher insurance premiums.
“While there is a lot of work to do to address rising drug prices and health care costs, ERIC believes there are bipartisan policies already introduced that could provide immediate relief to millions of Americas. ERIC looks forward to working with lawmakers to find solutions to this very solvable problem,” said Gelfand.
Click here for ERIC’s statement to the Committee on Education and Labor.
Click here for ERIC’s statement to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.