Opinion Pieces

The Daily News: Status quo is not acceptable

“I spend my entire Social Security check on insulin.”

“I spend my entire Social Security check on insulin.”

“I know I cannot afford to pay for the drugs I take now; therefore, I will have to forego using them.”

“I had to go back to work after retiring just to pay for our Medicare and prescription drug costs.”

High prescription drug costs are financially crippling patients like Karen, Denise and Sue – seniors in Southwest Washington who shared with me how this life-or-death issue impedes their quality of life. It’s not uncommon for folks to skip doses, cut pills in half or forego filling prescriptions altogether because they simply can’t afford them.

The status quo is not acceptable. Congress needs to act, which is why I recently supported two major pieces of legislation to lower the high cost of prescription drugs.

I recently joined my colleagues in the U.S. House to support the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This bill helps seniors by lowering the cost of life-saving medications like insulin, blood pressure medicine and cholesterol-lowering drugs, to name a few.

Importantly, this bill, H.R. 3, would place a cap on the amount seniors pay out-of-pocket for prescriptions at $2,000 a year and help make the price of insulin more affordable. It would also require drug companies to disclose truthful pricing information when advertising and provide dental and vision benefits for Medicare recipients. I’m also pleased H.R. 3 will increase funding of National Institutes of Health research and clinical trials to develop new drug breakthroughs. However, this bill does need to be improved to ensure incentives to create new cures aren’t inhibited and that we won’t encounter drug shortages that force seniors to wait for the prescriptions they need.

But we can’t wait for the perfect bill to act, which is why I’m working to advance multiple solutions through Congress. For instance, why shouldn’t Americans save money on the same prescription drugs Canadian residents have been safely taking if they cost less? I’m helping lead a bipartisan measure that would allow the safe importation of drugs from Canada, where they often have much lower price tags than in the U.S.

I also recently helped introduce the Lower Costs, More Cures Act which would also cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs – this reform would have helped about one million Americans save money in 2017. This bipartisan bill also caps insulin at $50 a month for seniors, after their deductible, and incentivizes insurers to cover their fair share, making this life-saving drug more affordable for those suffering from diabetes.

I’ve watched too many folks close to me struggle with chronic conditions and illness, forced to rely on increasingly expensive medication to manage their health. The time to act is now, which is why I’m proud to have helped the U.S. House advance key legislation to lower the cost of drugs.

No one should have to deplete their retirement savings to pay for heart medication or risk their life rationing insulin, and no Southwest Washington family should have to choose between paying rent or filling a costly cancer treatment prescription. Congress has a duty to provide real solutions for patients, and I’ll make sure we’re living up to that responsibility.