WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The House of Representatives renamed a bill that would lower the price of prescription drugs in honor of Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who died last week at the age of 68.
California Rep. Karen Bass said HR-3 was officially renamed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. “He fought for everyone to have health care and medications that are affordable,” she said.
Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Nevada, said it’s “a comprehensive bill that will allow Medicare to directly negotiate for lower priced drugs.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates negotiating prices could save the government $345 billion in a 6-year time period.
“We are going to invest those savings into innovation and new cures as well as expanding benefits under Medicare including dental, hearing and vision,” Horsford said.
But the pharmaceutical industry’s largest lobbying group opposes the bill, saying it will devastate the industry’s ability to develop new treatments.
The bill is likely to pass in the Democratic-controlled House in the next few weeks. But HR-3 will have a much harder time in the Senate. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block what he called “socialist price controls.”
“High cost prescription drugs hurt senior. They hurt Republicans. They hurt Democrats.”
Congress must find a compromise for this bill, Horsford said, to lower US drug prices to what consumers in other countries pay.