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House Panel Advances Major Initiative to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

October 18, 2019
Press Release
Legislation includes top Welch priority requiring the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices.

WASHINGTON – Last night, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a major drug pricing reform bill that includes a price negotiation initiative long championed by Rep. Peter Welch. 

The Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 (H.R. 3) was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a vote of 30-22. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will save at least $345 billion. It is expected to be considered by the full House in the near future.

“We are absolutely unique in this country where the federal government is prohibited from pushing back against the unlimited pricing power of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Welch. “This bill provides price relief to consumers by breaking the iron grip Big Pharma has over the price of lifesaving medicines.”

Current law prohibits the federal government from using its bulk purchasing power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices on the most expensive and most utilized drugs covered by Medicare. Savings achieved through these negotiations would be available to commercial health insurance plans covering the same drugs. The refusal of any drug company to negotiate would result in a steep tax penalty.

H.R. 3 will be renamed to honor Rep. Elijah Cummings who died unexpectedly yesterday. Cummings was Welch’s partner in the House on price negotiation legislation. They met with President Trump at the White House in March 2017 to urge his support for their bill. 

Welch first introduced a price negotiation bill in 2010. He is the lead cosponsor of Rep. Cummings’s price negotiation bill. He is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a leading advocate in Congress for lowering prescription drug prices.

To view remarks made by Rep. Welch during committee debate on the bill, click here: