Keep the Iowa Standard Going!
I rise to introduce the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2020. This is a bill that I have been working on for the past 18 months. I made lowering prescription drug costs one of my top priorities as I resumed the role of Chairman of the Finance Committee at the beginning of this Congress.
I made it my priority as it’s a top concern for Iowans and all Americans. My constituents throughout the state voice concern about being able to afford their prescription medications. I hear about this issue as much as any other. Poll after poll shows that the concern I hear in Iowa is shared across the nation. The need for Congress to act to provide patients with much-needed relief is also a common takeaway from these polls and from talking to my colleagues. Iowans want action. Americans want action.
Lowering prescription drug costs and providing relief to patients is actually what this bill does.
For the vast majority of my time working on the bill, the Senator from Oregon, Ranking Member Wyden, has been my partner. All of the policies in this bill, which improve Medicare and Medicaid and bring much needed transparency across the supply chain, were co-authored by the Ranking Member. The Finance Committee reported the initial version of this robust bill in July 2019 by a vote of 19-9. I worked with Ranking Member Wyden and others to make bipartisan improvements to the bill. These improvements have made an already good bill better. I’m introducing this updated version today. It remains a truly bipartisan bill.
It’s a bipartisan bill that helps patients and reduces government spending. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would save seniors and Americans with disabilities $72 billion in out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D and reduce premiums by $1 billion. The entire bill would save taxpayers nearly $100 billion – a rare source of bipartisan budget savings in an era of trillion dollar deficits. Even Americans in the commercial market would see savings.
It’s a bipartisan bill that helps patients, reduces federal spending, and lowers commercial costs. That’s a rare feat. It’s something of which we should all be proud.
So why is the bill only being introduced with Republicans as co-sponsors?
The reason, unfortunately, is that the Democrats recently walked away from the bill. They walked away from the good faith negotiations that produced this bipartisan product. They did so for political reasons. They put politics, and their drive for power, ahead of patients. From conversations I have had with colleagues on the other side of the aisle, this was a leadership-driven decision. Maybe the thinking is that they’ll block Senate Republicans from securing a win, or that they’ll be able to say that President Trump hasn’t followed through.
They can say that, but it doesn’t make it true. The introduction of this bill, with a number of my Republican colleagues, shows that Republicans are the ones on the side of patients. And to question the commitment of President Trump to lowering prescription drug prices is outlandish.
President Trump campaigned on expanding prescription drug affordability and fairness. He released a comprehensive plan that included numerous policy ideas. He and his Administration have taken bold regulatory action. Some of those actions are being fought in the courts by stakeholders that support the status quo. Some have been opposed by Congressional Democrats.
As the Administration’s ability to act through regulation can only take us so far, President Trump called on Congress to pass an overhaul of the drug pricing system. In fact, he mentioned my work on this specific bill in his State of the Union address earlier this year, and he called on Congress to send a bipartisan bill to his desk.
We should be celebrating the introduction of this bill today as another key step closer to responding to President Trump’s call for bipartisan action. While it remains the most prominent reform bill that contains bipartisan policy solutions, today’s introduction reveals that Democrats are more interested in positioning for elections than producing results. This is disappointing to me. But it makes clear to the American people that they can count on Republicans to take action on the issues that are important to them.
President Trump has worked harder to lower prescription drug prices than any President in memory. He has stood up to special interests. I, along with my colleagues cosponsoring this bill, and other Republicans, stand with him. I only wish my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were as committed. I urge that they stop the political posturing and work in a bipartisan way to deliver the relief that Iowans and all Americans deserve.