Engel Helps Pass Historic Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs

Engel Helps Pass Historic Legislation to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs


Today, Congressman Eliot L. Engel voted for and helped pass the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019, H.R. 3, through the House. This landmark legislation delivers on a key Democratic priority of empowering the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for American families.


“Every day, I hear from my constituents struggling to afford lifesaving prescription drugs. Some New York families are having to make the unconscionable choice between paying rent or filling a prescription. We cannot allow this to continue,” said Rep. Engel. “Today, the Democratic majority took a bold step forward in ending this health crisis. H.R. 3 will enable the federal government to negotiate drug prices, limit out-of-pocket costs in Medicare and invest its savings in developing tomorrow’s cures. I have long advocated for the federal government to have greater negotiating power when it comes to prescription drugs, and as someone who believes quality health care is a human right I am very pleased we were able to pass this major piece of legislation today.”


The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act would empower the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices for the 50 most expensive prescription drugs. Beneficiaries on federal health insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid would pay the negotiated rates. Commercial health plans would also be able to access the negotiated rates.


This historic legislation is expected to save the federal government about half a trillion dollars over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. H.R. 3 would re-invest these savings in the U.S. health care sector, specifically in:


  • Creating new Medicare dental, vision and hearing benefits which are expected to help over 113,000 residents in New York’s 16th Congressional District


  • Investing $10 billion in community health centers, which are safety-net providers that care for nearly 500,000 residents in NY-16


  • Providing $10 billion for combatting the opioid epidemic, which claimed over 3,000 lives in New York in 2017


  • Increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to help develop the next generation of cures and treatments


Congressman Engel is a cosponsor of the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. He also helped pass it out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. During the October 17, 2019 Energy and Commerce markup of H.R. 3, Congressman Engel spoke in favor of the bill, his remarks can be viewed here:


In addition to his work on H.R. 3, Congressman Engel has authored legislation to address the other drivers of rising drug prices. On August 8, 2019, he introduced the Recovering Excessive Funds for Unused and Needless Drugs (REFUND) Act, which would protect Medicare beneficiaries from wasteful spending on excessively large single-use drug vials. A month later on September 19, 2019, Congressman Engel introduced the Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act. This bill would create federal programs to promote the use of biosimilar drugs, which are generic versions of high-priced biologics. Going forward, Congressman Engel will work his colleagues to pass these bills.