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Game-changing H.R. 3 would stop prescription-drug price gouging

When we began running for Congress, we immediately heard from Minnesotans who were worried about their health care. They were worried about threats to protections for people with pre-existing conditions, about being one illness away from financial ruin, and about skyrocketing prices of their life-saving prescription drugs. The consensus is clear on health care more than any other issue — people in our communities want their elected leaders to reform and protect their care.

Rep. Angie Craig
Rep. Angie Craig
We listened, and we promised that if elected, we’d fight for a health care system that is centered on patients and outcomes, not procedures and profits. In no small part, that is why Minnesotans chose to send us to Washington, and that’s why we’re proud to continue fulfilling that promise by helping to introduce H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, in the House of Representatives this month.

This game-changing prescription drug pricing bill finally gives Medicare leverage to negotiate lower drug prices. It has been estimated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Centers for Medicare (CMS) Office of the Actuary that H.R. 3 will lower drug prices by up to 55% — saving hard-working Americans an enormous $158 billion.

And it could not come at a more timely moment. This fall, a study published by Gallup found that more than 23% of American adults — 58 million people — report being unable to pay for medicine or drugs that a doctor had prescribed. It is shocking and reprehensible that in the richest country in the world, nearly a quarter of the population is unable to afford their prescriptions. And yet, we know it’s true, because we hear the heartbreaking stories from Minnesotans in every corner of our communities far too often.

We know that H.R. 3 would improve the lives of thousands of Minnesotans by lowering costs and expanding access to lifesaving medications, but it faces opposition from politicians in Washington who are beholden to the special interests that line their campaign accounts.

Like us, President Trump promised during his campaign to allow Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug companies, but he has broken that trust – his administration has refused to do so, instead putting former pharmaceutical executives in charge of his health care policy. And after giving billions in tax breaks to the biggest drug companies last year, Mitch McConnell has declared H.R. 3 dead on arrival in the Senate.

There is too much at stake.

Rep. Dean Phillips
Rep. Dean Phillips
Medicare recipients are not the only ones who will benefit from projected savings. Lower prices will apply to every American who purchases prescriptions, no matter how they are insured. Whether you’re a child with asthma, a teen with diabetes, or a senior with a chronic illness – this bill will bring the cost of your medication down.

This plan will stop unjustified price gouging for thousands of critical medications, including insulin. Drug companies will no longer be allowed to charge Americans double and triple the price for the same prescription drugs as in other countries around the world, and they would be penalized if they keep the system rigged and their prices high. It’s no surprise, then, that the pharmaceutical industry has launched an aggressive campaign to defeat the bill, and drug companies are spending millions of dollars and have deployed hundreds of lobbyists to prevent its passage.

And while H.R. 3 is not popular with drug companies, it is popular with the American people because allowing Medicare to negotiate to lower the cost of prescription drugs and capping out of pocket costs just makes sense. They are ready for Washington to start working for them, and not the special interests that profit by protecting the status quo.

For too long, too many Minnesotans have stayed up at night worrying about rising costs of prescription drugs. Too many families are placed in the impossible position of choosing between getting their medications or paying their rent. Too many voters have gone to the ballot box with hope, only to be disappointed when those they send to Washington place the will of special interests over common interest.

But as new members of Congress, we’re delivering a fresh alternative to business as usual. We see you, we hear you, and our promise to you is that H.R. 3 is just the beginning.

Angie Craig represents Minnesota’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dean Phillips represents Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.


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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 12/11/2019 - 10:20 am.

    The authors fail to mention that the bill has been kneecapped by amendments to require the negotiation of only a minimum number of drug prices each year: 25 to be precise.

    Does anyone really think the Trump administration will do more than the minimum if that?

    • Submitted by Jim Mork on 12/11/2019 - 04:10 pm.

      I suppose there are arguments for both sides. But the pharmaceutical industry as a whole is such a massive plundering scam, I’m not sure “paying for my meds” is some sort of rescue. Doctors are too indifferent to the harm some of their prescriptions cause.

  2. Submitted by Alan Straka on 12/11/2019 - 10:33 am.

    This is just a political advertisement disguised as an article. The issue of prescription drug pricing is important but this is just blatant self promotion by two politicians. Look at the first sentences of the first two paragraphs and the entire last paragraph. They are clearly making themselves the focus of the piece. This is not journalism. Minnpost should be ashamed.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/11/2019 - 11:46 am.

      This is a “Community Voices” article. It seemingly is a forum open to all.

      I have no doubt if Pete Stauber wanted to share what he was doing to serve his constituent, Twin Metals, as he could write about his sponsorship of:

      H.R.4410 – Rare Earth Cooperative 21st Century Manufacturing Act

      And Tom Emmer could tell us all about his efforts to protect his bit coin owning constituents through his sponsorship of:

      H.R.3650 – Safe Harbor for Taxpayers with Forked Assets Act of 2019

      And Jim Hagedorn can tell us about his co-sponsorship of the:

      H.R.616 – Life at Conception Act

      And I am sure each of these folks would similarly express certain levels of self promotion. I guess I would put a higher priority on drug pricing and the impact it will have on Minnesotans.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/11/2019 - 10:42 am.

    I’m happy to see this in MinnPost. Yes, it’s self-promotion for a pair of office-holders in large part, but “Community Voices” isn’t intended to be straight-up news, and frankly, as a diabetic myself, I’m overjoyed to see at least a proposal to require drug companies to negotiate prices with an entity that has some genuine leverage – the federal government – as opposed to pretending that individual medication users have any influence at all on drug prices across the board.

    That Senator McConnell suggests that this House Bill will be dead-on-arrival in the Senate tells anyone who cares to look where his priorities lie (Hint: they’re not with his constituents).

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/11/2019 - 03:45 pm.

    I’m glad to see these two new Congresspeople talk about a tiny bit of the progressive legislation they and their House Democratic colleagues have been working on, and passing, amidst all the Trump hooplah that ignores everything but Trump.

    People forget that Nancy Pelosi’s troops have been hare at work and doing things that they promised in 2018’s election, and that Trump is too ignorant and lazy to read up on or acknowledge. Reducing drug osts is a major cause

    But it all sits on Moscow Mitch’s desk in the Senate, unheard, undiscussed, never to be voted on, one way or the other. Can’t have American voters know that Republicans are the only party NOT working on legislation, can we?

    Bravo! to Craig and Phillips! Long may they serve us in the House!

  5. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 12/11/2019 - 03:45 pm.

    It would be good to point out specifics as there are none. This feels as just a self-promotion. We have been down this road before, “just pass the bill before reading it” “You can keep your plan and your doctor” “This will save every family over $2500 a year”
    The cost of healthcare was rising but went through the roof with the disastrous ACA and is not stopping. And the ‘proof’ was all cooked numbers that the government and many states sued over.
    As much as we need more cost effective solutions, the only result from this I’ve seen is over 100 medications will no longer be available should this pass.
    We need solutions that create more healthcare, not something that leads to limiting and rationing.

  6. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 12/11/2019 - 05:55 pm.

    I see that Betty! is also a co-sponsor but isn’t accepting any credit. I failed to notice any GOP co-sponsors but I’m not that savvy as to who is who as far as party affiliation. The bill certainly isn’t a light read and, if passed and signed by the President, seems destined to years in the court system. I’m always nervous when the government decides what is “price gouging” or what are “fair prices” or why we start comparing U.S. prices to other countries when the easy option is to move to those countries for those prices and the quality of life that they have.

  7. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 12/12/2019 - 09:34 am.

    Medicare is prohibited from negotiating prices because that was the only way the right could get it passed in 2005. There is no such legal restriction for anyone else. I have already figured out how such a system could work and would be fully legal–with the federal govt cut out of the loop due to their choice. If they saw lower drug prices in the US due to competition , what would they do? Require a price match? LOL !!

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