We Can Lower Costs for Patients Without Sacrificing Cures

Warning against the Biden Administration’s decision to limit coverage for a new Alzheimer’s treatmentI urged Democrats to work with Republicans to ensure greater access to new cures during a recent Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Republican Meeting.

Full remarks as prepared for delivery appear below.

Good afternoon – and thank you all for joining us. Thank you to Congressman Buchanan for leading this roundtable discussion with me today. 

I also want to thank our guests for being here today and for your crucial testimony on this issue.

Before I turn it back to Congressman Buchanan, I’d like to briefly outline what’s at stake for American families, particularly those families who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other neurological or medical conditions.

The first new Alzheimer’s drug approved by the FDA in nearly 20 years is now the target – I worry – of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), who have taken on a role – that I fear – will discourage new lifesaving breakthroughs and limit the access to this new drug for our Alzheimer’s patients and of course their caregivers and loved ones who are so affected by this disease. 

You may recall in January, CMS issued a draft decision restricting coverage for this new drug for up to 6 million Alzheimer’s patients and their families. 

The agency went a step further in extending this decision to apply to all monoclonal antibodies of this type for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

We don’t even have full trial data on some of these future treatments yet, and we might never get these drugs to market if drug developers know they will be singled out, or won’t be paid by Medicare.

Now that Medicare coverage has been restricted so severely, these lifesaving cures may never make it to market, which is a big worry for many of us.

In fact, we’re already seeing the real-world consequences of this overreach.

One innovator company has already slowed its timeline to complete application for accelerated approval of its experimental Alzheimer’s drug.

That’s terrible news for the families suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, as well as those with other neurological or medical conditions such as Down Syndrome, who are desperate for new breakthrough drugs.

This coverage determination, combined with the decision to rescind the Trump Medicare Coverage for Innovative Technologies rule, makes me and other members of the Ways and Means committee Republicans concerned that CMS may be squashing innovation and undermining the work Congress did on accelerating breakthrough drugs.

More and more patients and their families are looking to Congress and American innovation for one thing: hope.

Hope that this new class of treatments shows promise for their condition.

Hope that future products build on this early promise that this drug shows and prove even more effective against this disease.

Hope that future research will not be lost due to the short-sighted restrictions we are seeing in this approach. 

This goes beyond just this type of medication. Really the development of innovative treatments will be chilled as the landscape for breakthrough drugs affecting seniors has been changed.

I know that I and Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Catherine McMorris Rodgers had a good, I think, candid conversation with the administrator of CMS Ms. Brooks-LaSure the other day, about our concerns.

So what can be done to reverse course and ensure American families have access to lifesaving cures? 

It bears repeating that the government takeover of prescription drug pricing still being pushed by Democrats in the Build Back Better program couldn’t be more wrong for this historic time.

It was bad policy before COVID-19, and it is even worse policy today for the hardworking people of this country who need reliable vaccines and therapeutics to return to normal life.

 According to some estimates, the President’s $5 trillion Build Back Better spree could lead to as many as 342 fewer drugs entering the U.S. market over the next decade.

As Republicans, we reject this trade-off between lower prices and fewer cures, which is why we have offered a more bipartisan approach, H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. 

We believe we can stop the worst abusers from gaming the system and lower costs for patients, without sacrificing life saving new cures and innovations. 

That’s what today’s hearing is all about – putting patients first, and preserving that hope that we all want for our loved ones suffering from diseases without treatments or cures.

I spend a lot of time back home here in Texas supporting our Alzheimer’s Association and our ‘End Alzheimer’s’ walk. 

I’ve seen firsthand so many of my neighbors and families dealing with this disease, which is just heartbreaking both for the patients, the families, and for the caregivers. 

Hope is at the front of what we want to see, effectiveness as well. And making sure we have as many Alzheimer’s patients getting access to this drug and other drugs in the future.

Again, I want to thank all our witnesses for being here today, for their testimony, and more importantly for their efforts on this issue. And with that, I’ll turn it back to our Ranking Member of Health, Mr. Buchanan.


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