07.25.18

Murray Applauds Progress of Legislation to Address Health Issues for Families Across the Nation

Senator Murray praised HELP Committee passage of legislation to help increase drug price transparency, support families dealing with congenital heart defects and Sickle Cell disease, and increase dental access

 

Drug pricing transparency bill would help patients get information about the most affordable way to get the drugs they need and increase transparency of pay-for-delay agreements used to stifle competition

 

Congenital heart defect legislation would help gather data and increase understanding on how to improve lifelong treatment for patients


Legislation to increase access to dental care would work to address national dental provider shortage in underserved communities

 

Bill to address Sickle Cell disease would help collect data and develop better care and treatment practices for people with the disease

 

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at the Committee’s executive session to mark up a package of health bills, including: the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2017, Action for Dental Health Act of 2018, and Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2018. All the legislation was passed out of Committee with bipartisan support.

 

In her remarks Senator Murray praised her colleagues for their progress on bipartisan legislation to increase drug price transparency, improve our understanding of how to treat patients with congenital heart defects and Sickle Cell disease and support their families, and expand access to dental care, especially in underserved rural and low-income areas. She also expressed her frustration that the Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2018 did not include authorization for funding public health activities and that Senator Booker’s request for more time to work on this issue wasn’t accommodated. Senator Murray emphasized the importance of this issue and promised to continue working to address it.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Families in Washington state, and across the country, want us to work together on legislation that helps address the challenges they face. Which is why I’m glad we are advancing legislation today that will increase transparency of prescription drug prices to help families keep a bit more money in their pockets, help us better understand how to support patients with congenital heart defects and Sickle Cell disease,  and improve oral health and access to dental care in underserved areas. These bills are a testament to what we can accomplish when we are willing to work across the aisle to find commonsense solutions.”


“As drug prices continue to skyrocket, families across the country want action to make their medications more affordable. This legislation will help by outlawing gag clauses that prevent patients from getting information about the most affordable way to get the drugs they need. It will also increase transparency of pay-for-delay agreements that can keep competition for the most costly biologic drugs off the market—by requiring drug companies to register them with the Federal Trade Commission.”

“Every fifteen minutes, a child in this country is born with a heart defect.  And while we’ve made a lot of progress treating congenital heart defects, there’s still more we can do to improve and expand life-saving surveillance and data collection,  and how we care for patients with heart defects as they live longer and face new health challenges… Advancing [Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act] is an important step to ensure people with congenital heart defects of all ages get the resources and support they need to live long, happy, and healthy lives.”

 

“We know oral health is a critical part of overall health and wellbeing, but unfortunately dental care is simply out of reach for many families... These shortages—which are overwhelmingly in low-income and rural, communities—are particularly concerning as poor dental health can lead to serious health challenges, and economic challenges as well…The Action for Dental Health Act works to do this by reauthorizing funding to promote oral health, prevent dental disease, bolster the dental care workforce, and make care more accessible in underserved communities.

 

“Last month, 10-year old Zion Davison from my home state of Washington visited my office here in D.C. She was here to talk about her brother and sister who were both born with Sickle Cell disease and what that has meant for their family. The disease causes blood cells to form abnormally, which in turn cause additional medical complications, including sudden, severe bouts of pain. Pain so severe it often requires hospitalization. Zion’s siblings are just a few of the 100,000 people across the country fighting this disease. So I’m glad that we are moving forward the Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act… which takes important steps to collect data to help us understand this disease, and identify and evaluate new strategies for treating Sickle Cell patients and supporting them. Of course there are more important steps we still need to take—especially in terms of authorizing funding for this important work.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

“Families in Washington state, and across the country, want us to work together on legislation that helps address the challenges they face. Which is why I’m glad we are advancing legislation today that will increase transparency of prescription drug prices to help families keep a bit more money in their pockets, help us better understand how to support patients with congenital heart defects and Sickle Cell disease,  and improve oral health and access to dental care in underserved areas. These bills are a testament to what we can accomplish when we are willing to work across the aisle to find commonsense solutions.

 

[S. 2554: Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act]

 

“Like the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act.

 

“As drug prices continue to skyrocket, families across the country want action to make their medications more affordable. This legislation will help by outlawing gag clauses that prevent patients from getting information about the most affordable way to get the drugs they need. It will also increase transparency of pay-for-delay agreements that can keep competition for the most costly biologic drugs off the market—by requiring drug companies to register them with the Federal Trade Commission. 

 

“While President Trump has failed to offer new and impactful ideas to address rising drug prices, I’m glad we were able to find common ground to move this idea from Senator McCaskill and Senator Collins forwards. Thank you both for your leadership on this.

 

“And while we’re working to end gag clauses and increase transparency on drug prices—I also want to mention my firm opposition to another attempt to gag health care providers. The Trump-Pence Administration’s proposed gag rule on the Title X family planning program would be a big step backwards for women’s health. It would undermine health care access for millions of women and interfere with providers’ ability to inform patients about their reproductive care options. So I hope we can find bipartisan support to oppose that gag rule as well.

[H.R. 1222: Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2017]

 

“Every fifteen minutes, a child in this country is born with a heart defect.  And while we’ve made a lot of progress treating congenital heart defects, there’s still more we can do to improve and expand life-saving surveillance and data collection,  and how we care for patients with heart defects as they live longer and face new health challenges. 

 

“The Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act will help provide that support by pioneering a long-term study to help us understand how these patients’ needs change and how to improve their health outcomes as they age, and promoting greater awareness about the prevalence, impact, and importance of tailored treatment for patients living with congenital heart defects.

 

“Advancing this legislation is an important step to ensure people with congenital heart defects of all ages get the resources and support they need to live long, happy, and healthy lives.

 

“I want to extend my gratitude to Senator Durbin for championing this cause—one that I know he cares very deeply about.

[S. 3016: Action for Dental Health Act of 2018]

 

“We know oral health is a critical part of overall health and wellbeing, but unfortunately dental care is simply out of reach for many families. And without action, the problem is only going to get worse. The Health Resources and Services Administration predicts all fifty states will experience a shortage of dental professionals over the next 10 years.

 

“These shortages—which are overwhelmingly in low-income and rural, communities—are particularly concerning as poor dental health can lead to serious health challenges, and economic challenges as well. We need to focus on this shortage now and help families across the country who are suffering from a lack of access to dental care.

 

“The Action for Dental Health Act works to do this by reauthorizing funding to promote oral health, prevent dental disease, bolster the dental care workforce, and make care more accessible in underserved communities.

 

“Thank you Senator Booker and Senator Cassidy for your work on this legislation. I’m glad we are able to move this important bill forward, and hope to see it signed into law soon.

[S. 2465: Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act of 2018]

 

“Last month, 10-year old Zion Davison from my home state of Washington visited my office here in D.C. She was here to talk about her brother and sister who were both born with Sickle Cell disease and what that has meant for their family. The disease causes blood cells to form abnormally, which in turn cause additional medical complications, including sudden, severe bouts of pain. Pain so severe it often requires hospitalization. Zion’s siblings are just a few of the 100,000 people across the country fighting this disease.

 

“So I’m glad that we are moving forward the Sickle Cell Disease Research, Surveillance, Prevention, and Treatment Act. Thank you Senator Booker and Senator Scott for bringing together so many passionate voices on this legislation which takes important steps to collect data to help us understand this disease, and identify and evaluate new strategies for treating Sickle Cell patients and supporting them.

 

“Of course there are more important steps we still need to take—especially in terms of authorizing funding for this important work. I know Senator Booker was working to do just that, and I’m disappointed he was refused accommodations for his request for more time to work on this. I’ll be offering an amendment to address this issue which I’ll be speaking about shortly, and I hope we can all agree to.

 

“And I believe we can find a path forward on that bill and on many other important issues if we keep working together in a bipartisan way, and focusing on improving the lives of communities and families across the country.

 

“Thank you.”

 

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