Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Slams Democrats For Playing Politics With Affordable Prescription Drugs

May 16, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC– Today, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) voted against tactics of House Democrats that discarded a bipartisan agreement to address drug pricing by including provisions that would reinforce harmful Obamacare policies previously reversed by the Trump Administration. H.R. 987 combines three bipartisan drug pricing bills with four partisan Obamacare bills that passed the Energy and Commerce committee on a straight Democrat vote.

“House Democrats have wasted a critical opportunity to legislate on issues important to Americans by adding poison bills that would hurt Americans,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “We’ve worked long and hard to lower drug costs and found a solution in the Energy and Commerce committee to help folks across the country. As a senior member of that committee, I voted for the three bills included in today’s package to reign in out-of-control prescription drugs prices. Our bipartisan committee bill was going to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Trump. The bill on the House floor is dead on arrival in the Senate.  I’m disgusted that House Democrats know this but are playing politics and throwing away an opportunity to ensure access to affordable prescription drugs for patients who desperately need them. We should be working together to help the American public, not bringing back the failed policies of Obamacare.”

H.R. 987 combines three drug pricing bills that had bipartisan support in committee with four Obamacare bills that were approved by the Energy and Commerce committee without Republican support.

The bipartisan drug provisions of the package include:

H.R. 965, the CREATES Act, which would penalize branded drug makers that withhold samples from generic manufacturers;

H.R. 1499, the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act, which would ban pay-for-delay agreements; and

H.R. 938, the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act, which would limit first-approved generic makers' ability to stall another rival’s launch.

The partisan Obamacare provisions include:

H.R. 1385, which would give states $200 million annually in federal funding to establish state-based marketplaces;

  • For the 2018 plan year: Thirty-four states had Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFMs), 12 states had State-based Marketplaces (SMBs), and five states had State-based Marketplaces using the federal platform. (SBE-FPs).
  • Obamacare provided states with the option of building their own SBM or utilizing the FFM. Funding was made available to states in the form of grants for the planning and establishment of SBMs. No funding was awarded after December 31, 2014, in accordance with the law.
  • Five years after the funding has expired this partisan bill would earmark money for states to establish SBMs.

H.R. 1386, which would provide $100 million to the Federal-Facilitated Marketplace Navigator program;

  • This is a bailout of a failed program.
  • Obamacare established the Navigator program to provide guidance to enrollees, inform consumers of Open Enrollment Periods, and notify potential enrollees about ways to sign up for coverage.
  • For plan year 2017, Navigators received a total of $62.5 million in grants and enrolled 81,426 individuals, which accounted for fewer than one percent of total enrollees.
  • For this reason, Navigator grantees received funding for plan year 2018 based on their ability to reach enrollment goals for the previous year.
  • Since President Trump took office, the number of Americans in employer health coverage has increased by more than 2.5 million.  In fact, today there are a greater percentage of Americans in employer health coverage today than at any time since 2000.  So, there’s even less of a need to bail out the failed Navigator’s program.

H.R. 1010, which would reverse the Trump administration's expansion of short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans as an Obamacare alternative;

  • The Trump administration aims to provide relief from rising premiums and expand access to affordable plans by allowing STLDI plans to be available to consumers for up to 364 days and renewable up to 36 months.
  • These more affordable plans may be attractive options for individuals who are between jobs, cannot afford Obamacare coverage, or cannot continue to see their doctor because they are out of network.
  • STLDI plans, which the Democrats like to call “junk,” were legal under the Obama administration.  And the plans are regulated at the state level, just as they were under the Obama administration, with some states not allowing these plans, and others further limiting their availability.

H.R. 987, the underlying text, which would restore Obamacare outreach and enrollment funding.

  • The taxpayer dollars in this partisan, Democrat legislation are strictly available for outreach and education about Obamacare plans.
  • Instead of educating patients on all plan options available to them, this bill places a federal restriction on utilizing the funding for the promotion of more affordable choices, specifically association health plans (AHPs) and short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans.

Media Contact: Cate Cullen