Legislative Update for Week Ending May 19, 2017

Legislative Update for Week Ending May 19, 2017

This week, a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to the White House urging executive action on prescription drug prices. In addition, two key bills gained support in the House.

Senators Urge Action on Drug Prices

On Monday, a group of three Senators – Amy Klobuchar (MN), John McCain (AZ), and Chuck Grassley (IA) – sent a letter to the White House urging the administration to utilize its executive power to reduce prescription drug costs.

The letter was written in response to recent comments from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney, who told reporters last week that he has been “actively discussing potential executive or administrative solutions” to the prescription drug issue with President Trump. The group of Senators said, “We write to express our support for such efforts that could provide immediate relief to Americans.”

According to the three Senators, under current law, the administration has the authority to allow pharmacists and wholesale retailers to import prescription drugs from Canada, where medicines are often half the price. The administration also has the power to issue an executive order that would allow individuals to import prescription drugs from Canada for their own personal use.

They wrote: “We have worked together on bipartisan legislation that would address skyrocketing prescription drug prices … While we pursue these legislative efforts in Congress, we strongly encourage you to take executive or administrative action to reduce the ever-increasing financial burden of prescription drugs for millions of Americans.”

Like Senators Klobuchar, McCain, and Grassley, TSCL enthusiastically supports efforts by the administration to reduce prescription drug costs, and we hope to see the White House move forward on executive actions that would allow for prescription drug importation. In the meantime, we will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill for legislation like the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act (S. 92) and the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S. 469, H.R. 1245), both of which would go a long way in reducing prescription drug costs for older Americans.

For updates on the drug importation issue, follow TSCL on Twitter or visit the Legislative News section of our website.

Two House Bills Gain New Support

This week, one new cosponsor – Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9) – signed on to the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1902), bringing the total up to 161. The bill, which was introduced just over a month ago, has more support in Congress than any other comprehensive Social Security reform bill to date.

If adopted, it would provide beneficiaries with a 2 percent benefit boost, base cost-of-living adjustments on the more accurate Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, create a new minimum benefit set at 125 percent of the poverty line, and eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits for millions of seniors. It would also extend the solvency of the program through the year 2100 without cutting benefits for current or future retirees. TSCL was pleased to see support grow for H.R. 1902 this week, and we hope to see it signed into law before the end of this year.

In addition, one new cosponsor – Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-1) – signed on to the Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act (H.R. 1776) this week. Rep. Rush is the eleventh Member of Congress to pledge his support for the bill. If signed into law, it would comprehensively reform the prescription drug industry to reduce costs for consumers.

It would: require Medicare to negotiate lower Part D drug prices, allow individuals to import prescription drugs from Canada, require greater price transparency from drug manufacturers, accelerate the closing of the Part D “doughnut hole,” restore drug rebates for low-income seniors, and put a $250 monthly cap on prescription drug spending for individuals. Together, these changes would dramatically reduce drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries. In the coming months, TSCL will continue to work towards its passage in Congress.

For progress updates on H.R. 1902 or H.R. 1776, visit the Bill Tracking section of TSCL's website. To contact your Members of Congress to request their support for the bills, click HERE.