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House Passes Bill aimed at Lowering Health Care Costs
In a pivotal legislative move, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ ambitious bill designed to tackle the soaring costs of health care while prioritizing transparency within the system.
Along with her Democratic committee colleague, New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone, and the senior Republicans on two other panels, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sponsored the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act.
The bipartisan legislation, spearheaded by McMorris Rodgers, aims to implement critical measures that promise to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Americans across the country. The bill passed with a significant majority, indicating a united front in the pursuit of healthcare reform.
McMorris Rodgers stated in an interview that greater transparency will lower the cost of health care.
Hospitals and other healthcare providers are required by law to post their rates online. Additionally, it prohibits pharmacy benefit managers, who are independent businesses that negotiate for prescription drug costs, from engaging in “spread pricing” in Medicaid, a practice in which they overcharge for a prescription and keep the difference in their own pockets.
Suspending the rules, a procedural move that expedites approval but necessitates a two-thirds majority, the bill was approved by a vote of 320-71. The bill was supported by all other members in the Northwest, with the exception of Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Portland, Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho Falls.
The American Hospital Association objected to a “site-neutral” pricing provision in the bill, which restricts providers’ ability to charge varying rates for the same treatment depending on where it is provided.
The bill is now headed to the Senate, where there is bipartisan support for strengthening healthcare price transparency and controlling pharmaceutical benefit managers. However, senators have their own ideas about how to deal with those problems, and it’s not obvious if politicians in the two houses can resolve their differences at a time when bipartisan problem-solving is becoming increasingly rare due to growing polarization.
Along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington and the head of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, has sponsored her own measure that specifically targets pharmacy benefit managers.
A separate bill aimed at holding the intermediaries accountable has been proposed by top Senate Finance Committee Democrats and Republicans, Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mike Crapo of Idaho, respectively.
In addition to setting up a meeting with the senior Republican on the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, McMorris Rodgers reported that she had spoken with Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, is in favor of the pharmacy benefit manager measure that the two men have filed. Bottom line, McMorris Rodgers stated,
The passage of this legislation marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to reform the nation’s healthcare system. As the bill moves to the Senate, its impact and potential implications for healthcare costs and transparency remain a focal point of national discourse, with advocates and stakeholders closely monitoring its progress.
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