Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) submitted the following letter to the editor exclusively to Covering Katy News and Covering Fort Bend News. Olson is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has been working to address the high prices of prescription drugs.
Letter to the Editor
One issue that all Americans can agree on is the high cost and complicated pricing structure for prescription drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of Americans use at least one prescription drug daily. Unfortunately, skyrocketing prescription drug costs have made it more difficult for Americans to afford the medicine they need.
On the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have been working to develop a bipartisan strategy to help lower costs — until last week, when Democrats in the Committee conducted hearings on a radically different drug pricing strategy introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would put the federal government in control of the market.
On both sides of the aisle we have worked to develop solutions that address healthcare issues without innovation-stifling government mandates.
Last year, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, which removed a needless ban that prevented pharmacists from informing patients if paying out of pocket instead of going through insurance is more cost effective. We also passed and the president enacted the Know the Lowest Price Act, which allowed pharmacists to let folks know when paying out of pocket on prescriptions is cheaper than going through Medicare.
When President Barack Obama was in office, we passed the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which made it easier and faster for new treatments to become available for patients. It also allocated more research funding to institutions, like the National Institute of Health.
Similarly, last Congress we passed a bill supporting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that included a provision that makes it easier and faster for the generic versions of medications without competition to move through the FDA approval process.
These bipartisan laws will lower costs for patients, incentivize innovation to develop new cures and solutions to the medical issues we face, as well as allow competition in the free market to flourish so that treatments continue to improve.
Sadly, the bill Speaker Pelosi proposed to address drug pricing was not crafted in a bipartisan manner and puts meaningful solutions that Americans desperately need out of reach. It is a partisan and radical government-control solution that will stifle innovation and the development of new life-saving medications.
These policies are an attempt to nationalize the drug industry and a dangerous step towards Medicare-for-All. If enacted, the House Speaker’s bill would force the federal government to use Medicare to set price controls for 250 prescription drugs that would be retroactive to 2016.
What’s worse is if pharmaceutical companies fail to negotiate drug prices, they face taxes of up to 75 percent of their gross revenue on each drug in question — an astounding penalty that would cripple their businesses. The Pelosi drug pricing plan would stifle market growth, kill businesses and limit treatment options available to Americans in need.
In fact, every single Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee — myself included — spoke out against Speaker Pelosi’s plan and called for a bipartisan approach to bringing down drug prices.
The prescription for lower drug prices isn’t a partisan one that puts government in control of the market — it’s a bipartisan, accountable and transparent plan that fosters creativity and innovation in a free market.
The stakes are too high for Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats to play partisan games with our health care. We need real solutions to address the rising costs of prescription drugs while facilitating free-market solutions — not a partisan bill opening the door to socialized health care that has no chance of becoming law.
The American people deserve better.
Pete Olson represents the 22nd Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit olson.house.gov for more info.