Eshoo, Pallone Highlight Health Subcommittee’s 2019 Accomplishments

December 18, 2019
Press Release
Lowering Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs in America

Washington, D.C. – As the first session of the 116th Congress comes to a close, Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) highlighted the Health Subcommittee’s work to lower the soaring cost of prescription drugs, expand access to quality, affordable health care, and improve public health.  The Subcommittee held 19 hearings, three markups, and passed 31 bills.

“Fighting to protect Americans’ health care has been our top priority from day one,” Eshoo and Pallone said. “Over the last 12 months, we followed through on our commitment to pass legislation to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable, protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, and hold the Trump Administration accountable for their ongoing sabotage of our nation’s health care.  We will continue to fight for the people next year to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.”

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs:

  • The House passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, with bipartisan support last week after it had advanced through the Full Committee earlier this year.  The historic legislation empowers the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs, and reverses years of unfair price hikes above inflation across thousands of drugs in Medicare.  It also invests savings into the most transformative improvements to Medicare since the program’s creation – seniors will have access to vision, hearing and dental coverage for the first time.
  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed six bills that will help reduce the cost of prescription drugs by removing barriers that delay more affordable generics from coming to market.  The House passed five of these bills on the House floor – two of them passed on May 8 and three of them passed as part of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, on May 16.  The Subcommittee also passed legislation to increase transparency around the high-cost of prescription drugs.

Protecting Americans’ health care & making health care more affordable:

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed six bills to make health care more affordable, expand access to care, protect people with pre-existing conditions and reverse the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.   Five of the six bills have now passed the full House.  One bill H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, was passed on May 9 and four other bills were passed as part of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act on May 16.
  • The Health Subcommittee held its first hearing of the year to examine the impact Texas v. United States would have on Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Stopping surprise medical billing:

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed H.R. 3630, the No Surprises Act, bipartisan legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills.  The legislation would hold patients harmless in situations where, through no fault of their own, they receive a surprise bill from an out-of-network health care provider.  Earlier this month, bipartisan Committee leaders included the surprise billing proposal in a larger bipartisan, bicameral health care package, which is now awaiting a Floor vote.

Strengthening Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories:

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed legislation with unanimous support to avert the looming fiscal cliff for Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories.  The legislation would provide four years of increased Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories and increase the federal medical assistance percentage.  The Subcommittee also held a hearing on Medicaid funding in the U.S. Territories where members heard firsthand about the unique funding challenges the Territories face and the possible solutions for each of the programs.

Improving maternal health care:

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed two bills to improve quality and access to maternal health care.  The bipartisan bills expand access to care for rural moms, education health professionals on preventing discrimination and bias in care, and allow states to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms for up to 12 months postpartum.

Extending critical public health programs:

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed bipartisan legislation to extend funding for vital public health programs, including Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs.  A proposal to extend these programs for five years was included in a bipartisan, bicameral health care package announced earlier this month, which is awaiting a Floor vote.

Addressing the youth tobacco epidemic: 

  • The Subcommittee and Full Committee passed H.R. 2339, the Reversing Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, comprehensive legislation to address the youth tobacco epidemic.  The legislation addresses the sharp rise in use of tobacco products among young people by raising the minimum purchase age, prohibiting flavors in all tobacco products, banning certain non-face-to-face sales, and protecting kids from predatory marketing.

Improving cosmetics safety:

  • The Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on two bills that would update the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate cosmetic and personal care products.  Congress has not updated FDA’s authority to regulate the multi-billion-dollar cosmetic industry in more than 80 years.

Securing the U.S. drug supply chain:

  • The Subcommittee continued its long tradition of overseeing the safety and security of the U.S. drug supply chain.  In May, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the root causes of high prescription drug costs.  In October, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the safety of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

Gun violence as a public health threat:

  • The Subcommittee held a field hearing in Chicago, Illinois in October to examine gun violence as a public health threat.  The hearing brought together community members, care providers and policy experts for a community-centered discussion on America’s gun violence crisis.  The field hearing stressed the importance of our federal public health agencies conducting research into this ongoing epidemic.

Investigating junk insurance plans:

  • Committee Leaders launched an investigation into the concerning practices of Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance health care plans and insurance brokers.  The Committee leaders opened an investigation into the business practices of 14 companies that sell these short-term plans following a series of troubling reports citing consumers being misled by brokers and denied coverage for medical care.