CHN: House Passes Bills to Lower Drug Costs and Shore up ACA

A package of seven bills designed to strengthen the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance exchanges and lower prescription drug prices passed the House (234-183) on May 16. According to Roll Call, the bill consists of some measures that have bipartisan support, such as legislation to bring cheaper generic prescription drugs to market more quickly, with some measures that many Republicans do not support (indeed, only five Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the package). This includes legislation to block a Trump Administration rule issued last year to expand the duration of short-term insurance plans, which are exempt from the ACA’s consumer protections. The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987) would also provide funding for states to establish state-based marketplaces under the ACA and restore funding cuts by the Trump Administration for the ACA’s marketing and outreach and for its navigator program, which helps people signing up for coverage. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate as is; the White House has issued a veto threat.

On May 9, four House Republicans joined all Democrats in passing (230-183) the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act (H.R. 986). The bill would require the Trump Administration to rescind its 2018 guidance that made it easier for states to receive waivers allowing them to change their state marketplaces and bypass some ACA protections, putting people with preexisting conditions in jeopardy of increased health care costs. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate; the White House said it would veto it.

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