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GUEST VIEW: Knock Down Drug Prices - Odessa American: Guest Columns

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GUEST VIEW: Knock Down Drug Prices

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Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2019 3:00 pm

‘South and West Texans should not have to decide whether to put food on the table or fill their prescription.’

Access to medical care and affordable prescriptions is a real problem for many in the 23rd District of Texas. I hear story after story about seniors having trouble getting an appointment with their doctor and families having to make tough decisions to afford the medicine they need. My dad is 84 years old and has diabetes, this issue hits close to home for me.

While in Congress I have consistently supported legislation to increase access to and decrease costs of healthcare and make sure our seniors receive the benefits they have rightfully earned. The burdensome cost of prescription drugs is one issue that comes up consistently when I crisscross South and West Texas. Last year, two measures, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act and the Know the Lowest Price Act, were signed into law to bring some much-needed transparency to the drug supply chain by banning the use of “gag clauses” that restrict a pharmacist’s ability to let patients know if it’s cheaper to pay for a prescription out of pocket than through their insurance.

I am proud to continue on these efforts this year. For example, I recently cosponsored H.R. 2700, introduced by my friend and fellow Texas Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26). This bill would ensure that patients get the earliest possible access to more affordable prescription drugs by banning shady “pay-for-delay” tactics, bringing low-cost options to the table and incentivizing competition between all drug makers. Additionally, it would extend funding for Community Health Centers, which provide vital health services for South and West Texans.

I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 1034, the Phair Pricing Act of 2019, which would help cut down the costs of prescription drugs for seniors by requiring discounts negotiated by middlemen under Medicare Part D to be given to the consumer. This will ensure that seniors see the full benefit of these discounts rather than allowing middlemen to line their pockets.

Additionally, I am supportive of legislation to give patients increased flexibility and equal access to cancer treatments. Oral chemotherapy represents 35 percent of the oncology development pipeline, but most of these medications do not have alternative options, leaving patients with the burden of paying astronomical out-of-pocket costs or forgoing treatment. While injectable treatments are usually covered under the medical benefit component of a plan, orally-administered anti-cancer medications are covered under the prescription drug component, which often places a higher percentage of cost-sharing on the patient. The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act would fix this problem and ensure that patients can access the treatments that are best for them instead of having to worry about what options are covered by their insurance.

South and West Texans should not have to decide whether to put food on the table or fill their prescription. That’s why lowering the cost of prescription drugs and protecting access to care continue to be some of my top priorities in Congress. These are just a few of the many ways I’ve been working to save folks money on medications and fight for patients.

If you or someone you know is having trouble navigating the burdensome federal bureaucracy to receive Medicare, know that I have caseworkers from San Antonio to El Paso who have helped more than 200 individuals battle these bureaucracies on their behalf. We are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to call my office at 210-921-3130 with questions or concerns. Receive continued updates on my work for you in Congress by signing up for my email list at hurd.house.gov and following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube at @HurdontheHill.

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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