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Brady Opening Statement at Hearing on The Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices

February 12, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on The Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices.

Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Brady and the top Republican on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Devin Nunes (R-CA) sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA).  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Thank you, Chairman Neal, for calling this hearing today. 

“This is our second Committee hearing this Congress dedicated to health care, and we Republicans welcome that.

“It has been a decade since Democrats rewrote the laws for one-sixth of the economy, and health care still remains the number one worry for our families and workers across the country.

“And as we all know, it is the rising out-of-pocket health care costs that frustrate individuals and local businesses.

“High premiums, skyrocketing deductibles, and less power over health care bills haunt middle-class families and workers.  

“Medicaid is putting tremendous financial pressure on our states.  And Medicare – this important program that provides health care to 50 million Americans – is going broke sooner than expected.

“The status quo is failing.  We must do better.

“Our focus today is on getting the cost of prescription drug prices down.

“I’m pleased our Democratic colleagues are willing to work together with Republicans in Congress and the Administration on this issue. 

“Republicans on this Committee believe Congress must work together to lower out-of-pocket health care costs for Americans.

“We can do so by cracking down on overpriced drugs, empowering patients to choose the most affordable medicines for them, and eliminating the incentives in Medicare that reward bad actors and lead to higher prices.

“We’ve all heard horror stories of someone going to their pharmacy on their way home from work and, all of a sudden, it seems like the price tag for their drug jumped overnight.

“Why is this happening?  What is broken in the government-regulated market for medicine that allows for these seemingly annual price hikes on products, many of which have been available for years?   

“I’m hopeful that our witnesses today can give us an answer, and offer proposals of policies we should consider to remedy these frustrating problems.

“Health care and drug prices are too big of an issue to go at it alone, we must collaborate to drive these costs down.

“This Congress, let’s work together, as Republicans and Democrats, to lower drug prices. 

“We stand ready to work together on a bipartisan basis to do so.  But one thing needs to be stated clearly as we start this work.

“To protect the hope of future medical breakthroughs, Republicans reject Washington price controls that limit American’s access to life-saving medicines that many families are counting on. 

“When Washington ‘negotiates’ in government-run health care programs, taxpayers end up bearing the costs while Americans can be denied access to the most innovative, breakthrough medicines available to others in the private market.

“We must avoid policies that jeopardize the valuable innovation of our researchers, pharmacists, and medical professionals.

“We must get the incentives right to lower costs while we accelerate new advances in medicines.

“And we must give patients much more power to choose the care and the medicines right for them, not what’s right for Washington.

“Medicare Part B and Part D are due for needed reforms, and we want to work together to bring those bipartisan reforms across the finish line.  

“The best reforms we can implement are ones that will truly empower patients.

“Ones that can unleash the same market forces that have found a way to reward the companies that have innovated the technologies in my cell phone, but ensure its price is lower year-over-year.

“And while I know a small fraction of the far-left are demanding that Democrats push through government control of every aspect of Americans’ lives, Republicans ask that you instead work with us to tackle these problems. 

“Republicans want to push for solutions that work for patients, and we want to work with all our colleagues on the other side of the dais to lower health care costs.

“Today, let’s show the American people we’re ready to do that.

“Thank you, Chairman Neal.”