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Lipinski Helps Pass Bill to Lower Prescription Drugs Costs, Protect Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions, and Expand Access to Affordable Health Care

WASHINGTON—Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) today helped House Democrats pass legislation that would lower prescription drugs costs, protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, and expand access to affordable health care. The bill, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987), passed the House on a vote of 234-183.

“American families increasingly struggle with rising healthcare costs,” Lipinski said on the House floor on Thursday.  “That’s why I’m pleased to support the underlying bill, which contains some commonsense provisions which will protect consumers, lower drug prices, and stabilize the individual insurance market, providing families with some needed relief.”

This omnibus bill includes three bills to lower prescription drug costs by helping lower-priced generic drugs get to market faster. Getting more lower-priced generic drugs into the prescription drug market is a key way to create billions of dollars in cost savings for consumers and taxpayers.  For example, in 2017 alone, the entry of generic drugs into the market saved consumers and taxpayers a total of $265 billion.  According to one estimate, the average drug price decreases by 50 percent in the first year of generic entry, with an 80 percent reduction in five years.

H.R. 987 includes four individual bills that protect and strengthen access to affordable, quality health coverage. These bills would:

  • Rescind the Trump Administration’s guidance that expanded the ability of insurance companies to offer junk plans, which would raise the costs of comprehensive health coverage by driving up premiums for Americans who are older, sicker, or have pre-existing conditions.
  • Provide states with funding to establish state-based insurance marketplaces, which would increase access to health coverage and lower health care costs.
  • Provide funding for the navigator program to assist Americans with finding the coverage that is right for them and their families during the open enrollment season.
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct consumer outreach and enrollment education activities, which ensure that Americans know when the open enrollment period is taking place and how to find the right plan to fit their needs.

The House also passed an amendment offered by Congressman Lipinski to further help Americans who purchase health insurance on Healthcare.gov.  His amendment makes sure HHS carries out maintenance during times that least impact customers. HHS started scheduling maintenance for 12 hours every Sunday in the past two enrollment periods. Working families need to be able to shop for healthcare at convenient times, and for many who work long hours Monday through Friday, weekends are the best opportunity.

“For the past 9 years, I have worked on numerous pieces of legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act,” Lipinski said. “This bill, including my amendment, is another example of those efforts. These are simple, commonsense solutions. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance legislation that expands access to quality, affordable health care.”