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LETTERS TO WASHINGTON


2018

Medicare Buy-In Pallone Letter

Committee H.R. 3163 H.R. 5997 Chairman Burgess

Committee H.R. 3163 H.R. 5997 Rep Green

Committee H.R. 3178 H.R. 6690 S. 1738 Senator Hatch

Committee H.R. 6813 Chairman Brady

Committee H.R. 3178 H.R. 6690 S. 1738 Senator Wyden

Committee H.R. 6813 Rep Richard Neal

Kadereit Letter to Larry Kudlow

Committee S. 3338 Senator Orrin Hatch

Committee S. 3338 Senator Ron Wyden

H.R. 4841 Speaker Paul Ryan

H.R. 5160 Rep David DeSaulnier

Ltr to Alex Azar Rx Prices

Rep. Neal Letter to Treasury Secretary on recoupment

Thank You H.R. 3635 Rep. Jenkins

Thank You H.R. 3982 Rep. Messer

Thank You S. 794 Senator Isakson

Letter to Trump on Rx Competitive Tools

Committee H.R. 4256 Chairman Burgess

Committee H.R. 4256 Gene Green Ranking Member

Committee S. 2076 & S. 2478 Chair Alexander

Committee S. 2076 & S. 2478 Murray Ranking Member

Thank You H.R. 5150 Rep. Levin

Committee S. 2478 Chairman Hatch

Committee S. 2478 Senator Wyden

Committee H.R. 4143 Chairman Brady

Committee H.R. 4143 Chairman Walden

Committee H.R. 4143 Rep. Neal

Committee H.R. 4143 Rep. Pallone

Committee S. 2065 Chairman Hatch

Committee S. 2065 Senator Wyden

Thank You H.R. 3032 Rep. Katko

Thank You H.R. 4229 Rep. McMorris Rodgers

Thank You H.R. 4392 Rep. McKinley

Thank You S. 1879 Senator Barrasso

S. 109, S. 253, S. 479, S. 497 Chairman Hatch

S. 109, S. 253, S. 479, S. 497 Senator Wyden

H.R. 592, H.R. 807, H.R. 930, H.R. 1017 Chairman Burgess

H.R. 592, H.R. 807, H.R. 930, H.R. 1017 Chairman Roskam

H.R. 592, H.R. 807, H.R. 930, H.R. 1017 Rep. Green

H.R. 592, H.R. 807, H.R. 930, H.R. 1017 Rep. Levin

HHS Secretary Azar Rx

Senate Finance Committee Hearing Alex Azar to Sen. Wyden

Senate Finance Committee Hearing Alex Azar

2017

Committee H.R. 2974 Chair Burgess

Committee S. 223 Chairman Crapo

Committee S. 223 Senator Brown

Committee S. 870 Chair Burgess

Committee S. 870 Rep. Green

Committee S. 1369 Chair Hatch

Committee S. 1369 Senator Wyden

Committee H.R. 1316 Chair Tiberi

Committee H.R. 1316 Rep Levin

Committee H.R. 2823 Chair Brady

Committee H.R. 2823 Rep. Neal

Committee H.R. 4116 Chair Burgess

Committee H.R. 4116 Rep. Green

Committee S. 1321 Chair Alexander

Committee S. 1321 Senator Murray

H.R. 3857 Senator McConnell

H.R. 3857 Speaker Ryan

Thank You H.R. 1298 Rep. Davis

Thank You H.R. 1298 Rep. Wenstrup

Thank You S. 1348 Senator Wyden

President Trump Withdraw Nomination of Alex Azar

Committee H.R. 1173, 1409, 1480, 1825, 2307 Chair Burgess

Committee H.R. 1173, 1409, 1480, 1825, 2307 Rep. Green

Committee H.R. 1173, 1825, 2307, 2589 Chair Tiberi

Committee H.R. 1173, 1825, 2307, 2589 Rep.Levin NRLN Ltr Committee H.R. 2412 Chair Marino

Committee H.R. 2412 Rep. Cicilline

Committee S. 448, S. 1076, S. 1197 Chair Hatch

Committee S. 448, S. 1076, S. 1197 Senator Wyden

Committee H.R. 817, 2113 & 2212 Chair Tiberi

Committee H.R. 817, 2113 & 2212 Ranking Member Levin

Committee H.R. 878 & H.R. 2368 Chair Sensenbrenner

Committee H.R. 878 & H.R. 2368 Ranking Member Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee

Committee S. 204 Chair Alexander

Committee S. 204 Ranking Member Murray

Committee S. 284 Chairman Hatch

Committee S. 284 Ranking Member Senator Wyden

Committee S. 974 Chairman Grassley

Committee S. 974 Ranking Member Senator Feinstein

Chairman Walberg Release Medicare Advantage Data

Chairman Alexander Release Medicare Advantage Data

NRLN and ARA Presidents to HHS Secretary

Committee H.R. 1513 & H.R. 1171 Chair Johnson

Committee H.R. 1513 & H.R. 1171 Rep. Larson

Committee H.R. 1578 & H.R. 749 Chair Burgess

Committee H.R. 1578 & H.R. 749 Chair Tiberi

Committee H.R. 1578 & H.R. 749 Rep. Green

Committee H.R. 1578 & H.R. 749 Rep. Levin

Thank You H.R. 1038 Rep. Griffith

Thank You H.R. 1173 Rep. Noem

Committee S. 379 Chair Hatch.pdf

Committee S. 379 Senator Wyden.pdf

Committee S. 297 Chair Alexander.pdf

Committee S. 297 Senator Murray.pdf

Thank You S. 413 Senator Capito.pdf

Thomas Marino H.R. 138.pdf

Joe Wilson H.R. 355 Delaying Fiduciary Rule

HHS Secretary Price Rx Canada

Grassley, Klobuchar, McCain

David Cicilline H.R. 138.pdf

2016

Rx Pricing Letter to President Obama 10.12.2016

Senator Wyden on S. 3111

Senator Wyden on S. 2864.pdf

Thank You S. 2623 Senator Franken

Committee H.R. 1882 Rep. Brady

Committee H.R. 1882 Rep. Levin

Committee S. 315 - Senator Orrin Hatch

Committee S. 315 - Senator Ron Wyden

Thank You H.R. 729 Rep. Maloney

Thank You H.R. 745 Rep. Walden

Thank You H.R. 1882 Rep. Nunes

Thank You S. 315 Senator Heller

Thank You S. 315 Senator Klobuchar

Thank You S. 377 Senator Schumer

Thank You H.R. 1270 Rep. Jenkins

Call for Vote H.R. 1270 Speaker Ryan

Call for Vote H.R. 1270 Chairman Brady

Thank You S. 709 Senator Roberts

Thank You S. 709 Senator Heitkamp

Thank You S. 1566 Senator Kirk

Call for Vote S. 1566 Chairman Alexander

Call for Vote S. 1566 Senator Murray

Thank You H.R. 2739 Rep. Higgins

Thank You H.R. 2739 Rep. Lance

Call for Vote H.R. 2739 Chairman Upton

Call for Vote H.R. 2739 Rep. Pallone

Thank You S. 1926 Senator Ayotte

Thank You S. 1926 Senator Mikulski

Thank You H.R. 3339 Rep Wasserman Schultz

Thank You H.R. 3339 Rep. Ellmers

Thank You H.R. 2799 Rep. Griffith

Call for Vote H.R. 2799 & 3339 Chairman Pitts

Call for Vote H.R. 2799 & 3339 Rep. Green

Call for Vote H.R. 2799 & 3339 Chairman Brady

Call for Vote H.R. 2799 & 3339 Rep. Levin

Thank You H.R. S. 1465 Rep. Kirk

Thank You S. 2214 Senator Gillibrand

Thank You S. 2214 Senator Warren

Thank You H.R. 4029 Rep. Joyce

Thank You S. 2147 Senator Portman

Thank You S. 968 Senator Gillibrand

Thank You H.R. 842 Rep Kinsinger

Thank You H.R. 2102 Rep. Davis

Thank You S. 1131 Senator Franken

Thank You H.R. 4642 Rep. McNerney

Thank You H.R. 4642 Rep. Collins

Thank You H.R. 771 and 1686 Rep. DeGette

Thank You H. R. 1726 Rep. Whitfield

Thank You S. 1345 Senator Shaheen

Thank You H.R. 3779 Rep. Valadao

Thank You H.R. 4207 Rep. Schakowsky

Support For S. 648 Senator Grassley

2015

SEPTEMBER THRU DECEMBER

Subcommittee H.R.2844 Repl Polis

Subcommittee H.R.2844 Repl Roe

Committee S.1631 Senator Hatch

Committee S.1631 Senator Wyden

Thank You H.R.3513 Rep Cummings

Thank You H.R.3696 Rep Titus

Thank You S.539 Sen Cardin

Thank You S.1190 Sen Capito

Thank You S.1790 Sen Vitter

Thank You S.2023 Sen Sanders

Thank You S.2148 Sen Wyden

Thank You S.2019 Sen Grassley

Thank You S.2019 Sen Klobuchar

Committee H.R.3261 Rep Brady

Committee H.R.3261 Rep Green

Committee H.R.3261 Rep McDermott

Committee H.R.3261 Rep Pitts

Committee S.1884 Sen Hatch

Committee S.1884 Sen Wyden

Congrats to Speaker Ryan

Rx Pricing Hearing Rep Chaffetz

Rx Pricing Hearing Sen Collins

Rx Pricing Hearing Sen McCaskill

Thank You H.R.3261 Rep Schakowsky

Thank You S.1884 Sen Durbin

Tom Reeder PBGC

Rx Pricing Hearing Rep Cummings

AUGUST

Committee H.R.2704 Rep Pallone

Committee H.R.2704 Rep Upton

Committee H.R.2704 Rep Levin

Committee H.R.2704 Rep Ryan

Committee H.R.3243 Rep Frank Pallone

Committee H.R.3243 Rep Fred Upton

Committee H.R.3243 Rep Levin

Committee H.R.3243 Rep Ryan

Committee S.192 Rep Kline

Committee S.192 Rep Scott

Committee S.1362 Orrin Hatch

Committee S.1362 Ron Wyden

Thank You H.R.2878 Rep Jenkins

Thank You H.R.672 Rep Young

Thank You H.R.3243 Rep Blumenauer

Thank You H.R.3243 Rep. Smith

JULY

Thank You S. 1461 Sen. Thune

Thank You S.607 Sen. Grassley

JUNE

Committee H.R.1559 Fred Upton

Committee H.R.2228 Fred Upton

Committee H.R.2229 Frank Pallone

Committee S.122 Senator Alexander

Committee S.122 Senator Murray

Committee S.857 Senator Wyden

Committee S.857 Senator Hatch

Thank You H.R.793 Rep. Griffith

Thank You H.R.1343 Rep. Engel

Thank You H.R.1343 Rep. Renacci

Thank You H.R.1427 Rep. Reed

Bill for Retirees S.314 Senator Hatch

Bill for Retirees S.314 Senator Wyden

Bills for Retirees Rep.Pallone

Bills for Retirees Rep. Upton

Bills for Retirees Rep. McDermott

Bills for Retirees Rep. Brady

Bills for Retirees Senator Levin

Bills for Retirees Senator Hatch

Bills for Retirees Senator Wyden

Thank You H.R.1516 Rep. Sensenbrenner

Thank You H.R.1608 Rep. Blumenauer

Thank You H.R.1608 Rep. Lance</p>

Thank You H.R.1608 Rep. Reichert

Thank You H.R.1608 Rep. Schakowsky

Thank You S.688 Senator Manchin

Thank You S.688 Senator Portman

Thank You S.804 Senator Collins

Thank You S.1013 Senator Cochran

Thank You H.R.1453 Rep. Nunes

Thank You H.R.1516 Rep. Crowley

MAY

Committee H.R. 1342 - Frank Pallone

Committee H.R. 1342 - Fred Upton

Committee H.R. 1342 - Paul Ryan

Committee H.R. 1559 - Frank Pallone

Committee H.R. 1559 - Paul Ryan

Committee H.R. 1559 - Sander Levin

Committee S. 275 - Orrin Hatch

Committee S. 275 - Ron Wyden

Committee S. 578 - Orrin Hatch

Committee S. 578 - Ron Wyden

To Eliot Engel Thank You H.R.605

Committee H.R. 605 - Frank Pallone

Committee H.R. 605 - Fred Upton

Committee H.R. 605 - Paul Ryan

Committee H.R. 605 - Sander Levin

To Johnny Isakson Thank You H.R.605

To Cathy McMorris Rodgers Thank You H.R.628

To Greg Walden Thank You H.R.1342

To Chellie Pingree Thank You S.2228

To Dana Rohrabacher Thank You S.2228

To Chris Smith Thank You H.R.1559

To Amy Klobuchar Thank You S.122

To John McCain Thank You S.122

To Debbie Stabenow Thank You S.857

To David Vitter Thank You S.984

To Charles Schumer Thank You S.578

To Susan Collins Thank You S.578

APRIL

To President Obama SGR Repeal

To Rep. Pelosi SGR Repeal

To Senator Alexander SGR Repeal

To Senator McConnell SGR Repeal

To Senator Murray SGR Repeal

To Senator Reid SGR Repeal

To Speaker Boehner SGR Repeal

MARCH

To Adrian Smith H.R. 169 & S.258 Critical Access

To Larson H.R.284 Medicare DMEPOS

To Tiberi H.R.284 Medicare DMEPOS

To Renacci H.R.290 Medicare 3-Day Rule

To Doggett H.R.380 Medicare ID Theft

To Johnson H.R.380 Medicare ID Theft

To Guthrie H.R.592

To Boustany LA03 H.R.775

To Brady H. R. 1021 Medicare Integrity

To McDermott H. R. 1021 Medicare Integrity

To Carney H.R. 818

To Roskam H.R. 818

To Roberts S.258 Critical Access

To Grassley S.314

To Cardin S. 539

To Collins S. 539

To Cardin S.148 Medicare DMEPOS

To Portman Ltr S.148 Medicare DMEPOS

To Levin GAO Report

MISCELLANEOUS ARCHIVES

ALYSONHAPPENINGS ON THE HILL - OCTOBER 2018

By Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

Medicare

The Trump Administration recently announced that Medicare will base prices that Medicare pays for prescription drugs under Part B on what other industrialized nations pay. The Administration plans to use the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to carry out the program and create an international pricing index. The drug industry lobbyists are already lobbying against the program claiming the program will limit innovative medicine. NRLN has lobbied for this and will continue to advocate that this provision be extended to Part D.

Pensions

It is highly likely that during the lame duck session, which is the period after an election, but before the next term begins in January 2019, the Congress will bring the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) up for a vote. This bill enjoys bipartisan support and will make it easier for small companies to provide pension plans and includes other incentives for small companies to start a new retirement plan.

Senators Rob Portman (OH) and Ben Cardin (MD) have teamed up to work on comprehensive pension legislation to increase retirement savings, preservation of income, reforming of plan rules and other pension issues. Many industry experts feel like the time is right for a comprehensive pension bill to address many outstanding pension issues. The NRLN is working to ensure that NRLN initiatives are included in this package.

Elections

The elections this week may bring a lot of change to the Committees that have jurisdiction over issues that are important to the NRLN. It is predicted by a number of polls that the Democrats will take control of the House and the Republicans will maintain their majority in the Senate. Assuming the Senate stays under Republican control, it is predicted that Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) will take over as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. It is also predicted that Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) will take over as Chairman of Judiciary. If the Democrats are successful in taking back the House, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) will take over as Chairman of Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) will take over as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction of the prescription drug issue, and Congressman Richard Neal (MA-01) will take over as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.


HAPPENINGS ON THE HILL – July 2018

By Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

Prescription Drugs

July was a busy month in the fight to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. After talking about the issue for years, some progress is being made.

The Administration just announced that it is exploring how to safely import prescription drugs from other countries when there is a sharp price increase for a drug produced by one manufacturer and not protected by a patent. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar directed FDA Commissioner to establish a working group to explore how this would work. The NRLN, who has sent numerous letters to the HHS Secretary and the President on this issue, is happy to see this option finally being explored.

The HHS Secretary also announced that he would like to use his agencies power to create more open markets for prescription drugs by giving consumers more power to negotiate with drug companies. Secretary Azar, however, did not give specifics in how this would be accomplished.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Greg Walden, and Reps. Gregg Harper (MS-03) and Michael Burgess (TX-26) sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting them to review mergers of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). They are concerned with the lack of transparency in setting prices and that PBMs may use increased market power to increase their profits.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also approved a bill to prevent “gag clauses” from being included in contracts between pharmacies and insurers or pharmacy benefit managers. Gag clauses prevent pharmacists from informing customers that they can save money by not using their insurance and paying cash for the prescription.

With all the attention by the Hill and the Administration on the prescription drug issue, most of the major drug companies have announced that they will “pause” decisions to raise drug prices.

Pensions

The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans held two hearings in July as their November deadline to come up with a solution is rapidly approaching. On July 13th, the Committee held a field hearing in Ohio to consider “What’s at Stake for Current Workers and Retirees.” On July 25th, the committee held a hearing in DC on “How the Multiemployer Pension System Affects Stakeholders.” As the committee continues to examine testimony and possible solutions four more multiemployer pensions applied to the Department of Treasury to reduce pension benefits in order to avoid insolvency.


HAPPENINGS ON THE HILL June 2018
By Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

Prescription Drug Prices

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on President’s blueprint to reduce prescription drug prices. Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) was the sole witness. Senators on both sides of the aisle called for stronger tactics to reduce drug prices than those outlined by the Administration. Democrats on the committee focused on Trump’s promise to allow for Medicare to negotiate prices.

Senator Sanders asked why the Administration would not support importation from Canada. Azar claims that Canada will not cooperate with the U.S. to ensure that the drugs would be safe. Senator Cassidy (R-LA) advocated for reference pricing which would use the average prices of drugs charged in developed counties as a baseline to determine US prices. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pushed for price controls and negotiations.

It was also announced this month that representatives from HHS are meeting with pharmaceutical companies asking them to voluntarily reduce their prices. As of today, no companies have announced reductions in their prices.

The CREATES Act was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 14th and has been placed on the Senate Legislative calendar. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also indicated that he expects movement on the CREATES Act. I expect this bill will be voted on soon so each party will have something to point to during the fall elections.

Pensions and the PBGC

The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans held their fourth hearing this month. The hearing focused on Employer Perspectives on Multiemployer Pension Plans and had company representatives from UPS, the Egger Steel Industry, Chamber of Commerce and Schnuck Markets. The committee has until November to craft a solution.

President Trump announced he is nominating Gordon Hartogensis to head the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) ousting Director Tom Reeder. His announcement has received criticism because Mr. Hartogensis does not have a background with pensions and government and this is cutting Mr. Reeder’s appointment short by a few years. The NRLN has voiced its concern to members of the Senate especially since the PBGC has a major financial crisis with the multiemployer plans.

Social Security

Ivanka Trump has partnered with Senators Rubio, Lee and Ernst on a family leave bill. One proposal under consideration is to deduct from Social Security benefits that would allow parents to borrow from their Social Security accounts to pay for leave. Critics are worried that this makes workers work even longer because they won’t have enough saved to retire. Additionally, some worry that this will threaten the financial stability of Social Security.


HAPPENINGS ON THE HILL May 2018
By Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

Prescription Drugs

The Trump Administration finally released their blueprint to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs. There were not many new ideas set forth in the plan and details of how they will accomplish their initiatives were lacking. Many of these initiatives will need congressional action, which is not a good sign because of the proven inability of Congress to move legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs. Additionally, we are disappointed that the President did not embrace two policies advocated by the NRLN - importation from Canada and permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices. One positive, however, is that the Administration is engaged on this issue, which puts pressure on Congress to act.

The President’s plan proposes:

  • Ending the rule that prevents pharmacists from notifying customers that they will save money if they pay cash as opposed to going through their insurance plan.
  • Targeting the price disparity of what pharmaceutical companies charge Americans and what they charge overseas for the same exact drug manufactured at the same plant. This is an issue that the NRLN has advocated for in letters to the Administration and our meetings with agencies and the Hill.
  • Targeting, through the FDA, the obscure system of discounts and rebates between the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and the pharmacy benefit mangers (middlemen) and bring transparency to the process.
  • Exploring requiring prescription drug commercials to disclose the price of the drug.
  • Ending the practices of large drug makers who extend their patents by tweaking the drug formula with the intent of getting an extension or refusing to provide samples to possible competitors, which are needed by generic companies to test their product and gain approval from the Federal Drug Administration.

The Hill

Despite a push from senior members of Congress such as Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Pat Leahy (VT) and many outside coalitions such as the NRLN, the CREATES Act was not brought to the floor for a vote this spring as many expected. The CREATES Act intends to end practices employed by large drug makers to keep generic competitors out of the market. The legislation has garnered more supporters on both side of the aisle these last few months and Speaker Paul Ryan (WI-01) has said they are looking at the bill. Many believe that it may be considered early fall.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee will hold a hearing on June 12th at 10:00 a.m. on the President’s plan to lower prescription drug prices. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will be the sole witness.

Pensions

The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multi-Employer Pension Plans continues to hold hearings in an effort to get as much information as possible before they prepare a report and make recommendations on the best way to solve this crisis. The last hearing was held May 17th and examined the state of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) with Director Tom Reeder testifying. A report is due from this committee in November. In a recent conversation with Hill staff involved with this committee, I was told there is only a twenty-five percent chance anything would move this year on a multi-employer fix, especially in light of the upcoming mid-term elections where control of the House and Senate is in play.

The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions recently held a hearing on ways to update ERISA and giving workers and families tools to save for retirement. In a recent opinion piece by Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-07), he stated that “Every American should have access to tools that allow them to retire with dignity and peace of mind after years of hard work.” I met with Subcommittee staff last week about the NRLN’s proposed legislative solutions and we will continue to work with his committee to address protecting the retiree and their pension benefits.

PBGC

The PBGC released their FY 2017 Projections Report on May 31st, which showed PBGC’s Multi Employer Program is likely to become insolvent by the end of FY 2025, and while there remain some risks, PBGC’s Single-Employer Program is likely to eliminate its’ deficit sooner than previously anticipated. I have attached a link to the full report: https://www.pbgc.gov/sites/default/files/fy-2017-projections-report.pdf


HAPPENINGS ON THE HILL March 2018
By Alyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multi Employer Pension Plans is now up and running and they expect to have their first hearing in April. Outside coalitions and Democrats on the Hill are coalescing around the Butch Lewis Act, which is named after the former President of Teamster Local 100 and a major leader to save the Teamster pensions. The Butch Lewis Act proposal allows pension plans to borrow money to shore up their pension plans. Of course, the process is just beginning so there will be many different proposals considered. We are participating in Hill meetings with industry will ensure that our interests our protected.

House members on the Committee are: Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Phil Roe (R-TN), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Debbie Dingell (D-MI). Senators on the Committee are: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tina Smith (D-MN).

Prescription drug prices continue to receive a lot of attention on the Hill. The NRLN has been advocating passage of the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (“CREATES”) Act. Senator Grassley and Congressman Marino have been actively pushing for the CREATES Act to be attached to moving legislation. The CREATES Act aims to end the maneuvering used by brand name drug companies to keep generic drugs off the market. The CREATES Act enjoys bipartisan support by senior Senators and Representatives.

Additionally, on March 19 President Trump promised an announcement within a month setting forth a plan to bring down prescription drug prices. The FDA Commissioner also has promised speeding up new drug approvals which will bring down prescription drug prices. We continue to have meetings to advocate for more action on this issue. The steps set forth above will help, but we would still like to see legislation implementing importation from Canada and permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices passed.

The Senate passed with bipartisan support H.R. 4547, the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018. This legislation strengthens the representative payee program to better protect those Social Security beneficiaries who are unable to manage their benefits on their own. The bill is now headed to the President for his signature.


Happenings on the Hill: December 2017
By Allyson Parker, NRLN Executive Director

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held its third hearing regarding drug prices on December 12th. This hearing focused on the National Academy of Sciences report on drug prices, which just was released on November 30th. There were three witnesses:

  • Mr. Norm Augustine, Chair of Committee On Ensuring Patient Access To Affordable Drug Therapies, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine;
  • Mr. David Mitchell, President And Founder Patients for Affordable Drugs, and
  • Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of American Action Forum.

All the solutions proposed by the three witnesses were not new and many are already part of legislation that has been introduced. Some of the proposals discussed included limiting out of pocket costs for Part D beneficiaries; ending pay for delay and other manipulations of the market; increased transparency in the pricing of prescription drugs, and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. One interesting proposal was ending the tax breaks that pharmaceutical companies receive for their advertisements and commercials that make consumers feel that they have to use the name brand drug.

A positive that came out of the hearing is some of the Senators agreed that there is common ground that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on to get something done to alleviate high drug prices. You can watch the full hearing on the Senate HELP Committees’ website here.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) had an industry meeting at the beginning of December to review the status of the multi employer and single employer plans. No surprises - multis are in horrible shape and single plans are improving. The multis have $67 billion in liabilities and only $2 billion in assets; whereas, the deficit for the single plan was cut in half this year to $10 billion. The PBGC expects this to be erased within the next five years, but cautioned, however, that this could change because there is a lot of underfunding by companies right now. They attributed the cut in deficit to the raised premiums, low claims, no major plan termination and good returns.

There is a major push on the Hill currently to fix the multi plan deficit. Two bills, S. 2147, the Butch Lewis Act of 2017 introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), and H.R. 4444, the Rehabilitation for Multi Employer Pensions Act introduced by Representative Richard Neal (MA-01) have received a lot of attention by industry and some on the Hill. This legislation proposes the creation of a Pension Rehabilitation Trust Fund and a Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Department of the Treasury and to make loans to multi employer defined benefit plans. The NRLN, the Pension Rights Center, AARP and several other advocate organizations have signed joint appeal letter (sent to members of Congress) in support of S.2017. If any pension legislation moves that addresses the multi-employer issue, this may be an opportunity to attach one of NRLN’s legislative proposals.


NRLN 2016 Survey Results

Between May 2 and June 5, 2016, there were 6,737 NRLN grassroots advocates who participated in all or parts of the 2016 NRLN Future Directions Survey. The data in the survey will help the NRLN and its retiree associations and chapters gain a better understanding of what is important to retirees and future retirees plus indicating whether the right priorities are set. The responses to questions where personal comments were given or personal contact information was provided are not included. Click here to view survey results.


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