Washington – Rep. Kirkpatrick voted to pass H.R.3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which will help bring down the cost of prescription drugs and level the playing field for American patients who are paying more for their medicines than patients in other countries. This bill gives Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies, and the lower prices negotiated by Medicare will be transparent so that private insurance companies can make the same prices available to their consumers. It also creates a new $2000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
“Southern Arizona families are facing skyrocketing prescription drug prices, forcing many to choose between their medications and putting food on the table, often times leaving the pharmacy without the prescription from the doctor, because they simply can’t afford it,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “We like to think of our country as one of the richest and most leading nations in the world—but in reality, people are suffering to get their basic care. Americans spend twice as much on health care than other industrialized countries.
“A mother shouldn’t have to decide if she’s going to drive across the border to Mexico— where she’s not sure if the drug she’s purchasing for her child has the same U.S. quality standards. That’s unacceptable, and it’s why I pledged to make this issue one of my top priorities this year.”
In Arizona, there are 120,408 people enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and 452,613 people enrolled in private health insurance – all of whom stand to benefit from H.R.3. For example, those living with cancer, arthritis, asthma, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis are expected to experience significant savings as a result of H.R.3:
- Patients living with breast cancer : In 2019, an estimated 5,630 women in Arizona will be diagnosed with breast cancer. H.R.3 can lower the average total cost of the breast cancer medication Ibrance by 65%.
- Patients living with leukemia : In 2019, an estimated 1,110 people in Arizona will be diagnosed with leukemia. H.R.3 can lower the average total cost of the leukemia medication Tasigna by 71%.
- Patients living with prostate cancer : In 2019, an estimated 2,800 people in Arizona will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. H.R.3 can lower the average total cost of the prostate cancer medication Zytiga by 66%.
- Patients with arthritis : 21.8% of Arizona residents have arthritis, and H.R.3 can lower their total costs on most arthritis drugs from about $40,000 to $10,000 per year.
- Patients with asthma : About 529,155 Arizona residents live with asthma, and H.R.3 can lower their total costs on most asthma drugs from about $1,400 to $270 per year.
- Patients with HIV/AIDS : In 2015, 764 Arizona residents were diagnosed with HIV, and H.R.3 can lower their total costs on most HIV drugs from about $15,000 to $6,000 per year.
- Patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) : One million people are living with MS in the United States, and H.R.3 can lower their total costs on most MS drugs from about $40,000 to $13,000 per year.
In addition to lowering prescription drug prices, H.R.3 also reinvests savings into expanding Medicare coverage for dental, vision, and hearing services for constituents throughout Southern Arizona:
- About 99% of beneficiaries or 166,700 people stand to gain from adding a dental benefit.
- About 80% of beneficiaries or 134,800 people stand to gain from adding a vision benefit.
- About 91% of beneficiaries or 152,600 people stand to gain from adding a hearing benefit.
“Passing this legislation is why the people of Southern Arizona chose me to be their representative. I was proud to vote for H.R.3 today to deliver on that promise. I’m pleased that the bill invests the money it saves into expanding Medicare’s benefits to include dental, vision, and hearing; assisting innovation in the search for new cures and treatments; and helping combat the opioid crisis. I urge the Senate to take up and pass H.R.3, and send it to the President’s desk for his signature.”