Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 | 4:11 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., has made health care — especially prescription drug affordability — one of his signature issues, backing multiple bills to reduce drug costs and make health care more accessible.
Some of the bills Horsford and other Democrats have backed — including measures to expand access to dental care and cap prescription drug costs — are marked to head to the House floor after passing through committee mark-up last week.
“We’re making tremendous progress and are very excited to see these bills move forward,” Horsford said. “Obviously these are measures that my constituents talk to me about consistently, and it’s a commitment I made that we would stay laser-focused on bringing these bills up and advocating for their passage this Congress.”
Horsford touted several bills, including:
• The Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a comprehensive health care bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drug companies, create a $2,000 limit on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and make lower costs negotiated by Medicare available to Americans with private insurance.
• The Medicare Dental Act, which would give Medicare beneficiaries access to dental coverage for most dental services, such as preventive dental care, routine dental treatments and dentures.
• The Health Providers Training Act, which would address the nationwide shortage of health care professionals by giving hospitals eligibility for a grant program to train some low-income individuals in health care fields.
Horsford said the concerns he hears from his constituents and others about health care and prescription drug costs are not acceptable in a country as rich as the United States.
“Many of my constituents have told me they are rationing their medicine,” he said. “They’re not taking them as prescribed by the doctor or they’re not taking them at all because they can’t afford it, or they’re begging their doctors for samples or the pharmacist for generic alternatives that may not be what they absolutely need.”
At a news conference earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said prescription drug pricing is unfair, especially when the identical prescriptions cost less overseas.
“Drug companies are charging Americans three, four, five, even in some cases 10 times more than they charge for the same drugs overseas, even though ‘big pharma’ admits that, even at the overseas prices, they make a profit,” she said. “The crushing burden of huge drug prices is weighing on seniors, on families, on employers and on taxpayers across the nation.”
Horsford said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can work together to implement the pending health care legislation.
“These measures have overwhelming support and, honestly, the lowering prescription drug price bill is something that I am hopeful Senate Republicans and the Trump administration will work with us on,” he said. “Candidate Trump talked all the time about wanting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and holding drug manufacturers accountable for gouging American consumers, so that’s exactly what (the Lower Drug Costs Now Act) does.”
He stressed that health care issues like prescription drug affordability should not be partisan.
“My constituents, they don’t tell me if they’re Republican, Democrat (or) independent. They tell me they have diabetes, they have cancer, they have asthma, they have heart disease and they can’t afford their medicine,” Horsford said.
“This is not a partisan issue; this is something that affects people regardless of income, regardless of whether they’re in rural Nevada or the city. It affects us all,” he said.