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Pallone & HHS Secretary Becerra Headline Rally on Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

August 16, 2021
Press Release
Following rally, Pallone & Becerra held a roundtable discussion with Community Health Center representatives

New Brunswick, NJ – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra joined Protect Our Care’s bus tour rally today to highlight the urgent need to pass transformative legislation to lower prescription drug prices.

As Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone re-introduced the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would finally give the federal government the ability to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for the American people. Following the rally, Pallone hosted Secretary Becerra at a roundtable with representatives from Community Health Centers to discuss the importance of the centers in ensuring underserved communities have access to affordable health care.

In 2017, 24 percent of New Jersey residents reported that they stopped taking a medication as prescribed due to cost. A 2020 AARP survey found 59 percent of New Jersey voters are concerned about being able to afford the cost of their prescription drugs.

“Americans pay more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world, and as a result too many New Jerseyans do not take their medications because of high costs,” Pallone said. “My legislation finally empowers the federal government to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs and make those prices available to both seniors on Medicare and Americans with private health insurance. Last week, the Senate passed a budget resolution that creates the framework for historic investments in health care and other social programs. I believe a key part of this package as it moves forward through Congress must be allowing the government to lower prescription drug prices. I’m grateful that Secretary Becerra joined me today in New Brunswick to see firsthand the momentum we are building for this bill. I’m looking forward to working with the Biden Administration to get it across the finish line.”

“Everyone wins when health care is in reach,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We know there is a need and demand for affordable care. Life-saving drugs shouldn’t eat up a person’s life savings. Lowering the cost of care and prescription drugs is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and I am committed to advancing this goal.”

The bill would lower the cost of prescription drugs by:

  • Empowering the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate better prescription drug prices in Medicare and make those negotiated prices available to commercial health insurance plans:
    • The CBO estimates that drugs subject to negotiation would see price reductions of up to 55 percent.
  • Capping Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs at $2,000 per year;
  • Reversing years of unfair price hikes by requiring drug manufacturers to pay a rebate back to the federal government if they increase prices faster than inflation; and
  • Reinvesting federal cost-savings in the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to support research and development of new breakthrough treatments and cures, as well as making investments in combatting the opioid crisis.

“Congressman Pallone has been a leader in the fight to lower New Jerseyans’ drug and premium costs, expand coverage, strengthen benefits for seniors and reduce racial disparities in care,” said Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director, New Jersey Citizen Action. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to lower prescription drug costs while expanding access to more affordable health coverage and care for New Jerseyans and millions of Americans. We urge Congressman Pallone’s colleagues in the House and Senate to work tirelessly to ensure these long overdue measures become law this fall.”

“When I was fighting stage 4 cancer, I had to forego medication that would boost my immune system because the price tag was simply too high,” said Laura Packard, a cancer survivor and health care advocate. “I wound up in the hospital, and nearly died. Sadly, stories like these are all too common in our country. Patients should be able to focus on getting well, not struggling to pay for medications. That's why we need Congress to act now to lower the cost of prescription drugs, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prices on behalf of all Americans.”

“Instead of focusing on my health, I worry about how I’ll cover the price of my next prescription,” said Lisa Ann Trainor, a patient advocate who suffers from a chronic illness and shared her story about how high prescription drug costs have impacted her and her family. “We need change. Patients like me need our elected officials to take meaningful action to lower drug prices now. I can envision a reality where I would no longer be prevented from taking the medication I need because of its high price. I am grateful to Secretary Becerra and Congressman Pallone for fighting for legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices.”

“This tour is giving Americans from all walks of life the opportunity to speak out about the pressing need to lower health care costs and improve care,” said Brad Woodhouse, Executive Director of Protect Our Care. “New Jerseyans have the right to know whether their elected officials stand by President Biden’s agenda to improve health care for millions or if they side with Big Pharma and other special interests. Democrats like Congressman Pallone are fighting for the lower costs and better care that all Americans deserve. Care Force One is crisscrossing the country this summer making the case for getting this critical job done.”