Cunningham Votes to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs

December 12, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Joe Cunningham today voted to pass H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, transformative legislation that finally prevents Americans from having to pay more for their medicines than what is charged in other countries for the exact same drugs.

H.R. 3 helps level the playing field, giving Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower the price of prescription drugs. It also makes the lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare available to Americans with private insurance, not just Medicare beneficiaries. According to nonpartisan analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, this legislation could save the taxpayer nearly $500 billion, money that could be reinvested in researching new cures and treatments, combatting the addiction crisis, and expanding Medicare to cover things like dental, vision, and hearing.

Cunningham successfully passed a bipartisan amendment that would make those lower prices available to veterans within the VA health system as well. Speaking on the House floor, Cunningham said, “The hard-earned tax dollars Americans are willing to put towards caring for our veterans should be spent on veterans—not on lining the pockets of drug companies. The Lowcountry is home to over 80,000 veterans, and I want them to know that when they seek VA care, they are receiving the best care at the best price.”

In the First District, there are 97, 279 people enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and 585, 599 people enrolled in private health insurance, all of whom would stand to benefit from the Lower Cost Drugs Now Act.

  • 11.5% of South Carolinians live with diabetes. Under H.R. 3, South Carolinians could spend 3.5 times less on insulin.
  • H.R. 3 could lower the average total cost of a common insulin, the NovoLOG Flexpen, by 76% -- from about $19,800 to $4,800 per year.
  • In 2019, an estimated 4,470 women in South Carolina will be diagnosed with breast cancer. H.R. 3 can lower the average total cost of the breast cancer medication, Ibrance, by 65% from $69,000 to $23,900 per year.
  • 26.3% of South Carolinians have arthritis, 36.7% of whom experience severe joint pain because of it. H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most arthritis drugs from about $40,000 to $10,000 per year.
  • About 9.2%—or 361,086—of South Carolinians live with asthma. H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most asthma drugs from about $1,400 to $270 per year.
  • One million people are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the United States. H.R. 3 can lower their total costs on most MS drugs from about $40,000 to $13,000 per year.

“Hardworking South Carolinians are routinely forced to pay triple the amount that is charged in other countries for the exact same drugs, all while pharmaceutical companies further pad their pockets. Over the past year, nearly 3 in 10 South Carolinians report having stopped taking medication as prescribed because they can’t afford it,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “This legislation levels the playing field for Americans and delivers real, life-saving cost reductions for my constituents. I urge the Senate to act as soon as possible so we can get this signed into law.”