New bipartisan legislation seeks to lower drug costs

The Lower Costs, More Transparency Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by leadership from two important committees.

The House of Representatives on Friday received new legislation aimed at reducing the cost of drugs and health care in general. With bipartisan support, the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act was pushed through the leadership of the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce committees.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) welcomed the introduction of the legislation and have already begun negotiating in their respective committees to address it as soon as possible.

"Our bipartisan legislation meets this moment by giving patients what they are rightfully demanding: the ability to get the right care, at the right time, at a price they know and can afford," said McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"It will lower costs by giving patients the health care price information they need to make the decisions that are best for them and their families—something 95 percent of Americans support", she added.

"This bill represents what our committees do at their best: work together to deliver bipartisan results for the American people. I’m grateful to my colleagues for partnering with me to strengthen the bill," said Pallone, a senior member of the committee.

What does the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act do?

For starters, it includes provisions from the PATIENT Act, which required hospitals to publish basic prices for all items and services they offer in a readable format. It also talks about initial transparency about the cost of imaging and lab testing services, as well as requiring pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to tell their employees about expenses.

In addition, it would prohibit the practice of differential pricing in Medicaid, that is, what happens when the aforementioned administrators overcharge insurance providers for drugs, obtaining that "differential" in the process.

It "includes provisions focused on health care price transparency, site-neutral payment cuts, and extending certain funding set to expire Sept. 30 for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program. The bill also would delay for two years the start of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital cuts scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1", the  American Hospital Association stated.