WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today participated in her first Senate Finance Committee hearing, where she continued her leadership in the fight to lower prescription drug prices.
“I am so pleased to be here and I hope to work with you [Chairman Grassley] and Ranking Member Wyden, and all the members of the Committee on the full range of issues under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including on efforts to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and access to affordable, quality health care,” Senator Hassan said. “Obviously lowering prescription drug prices is a big part of this, so I am very pleased we’re having this hearing.”
In the hearing, Senator Hassan highlighted a loophole in the Medicaid rebate program that allows drug companies to game the system to shirk their full rebate obligation and pad their pockets. Due to this loophole, the government, and ultimately the taxpayers, are not receiving the full discounts they should be getting from pharmaceutical manufacturers under the Medicaid rebate program. The independent agency that advises Congress on Medicaid policy, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, has recommended that Congress close this loophole.
Senator Hassan also called for more transparency for drug companies who pay billions of dollars to influence physicians. The Senator cited data gathered under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act that shows that in 2016 alone, drug and device companies paid more than $8 billion to doctors in the form of gifts, meals, travel and speaking fees – a practice that many worry could influence which drugs physicians prescribe.
Senator Hassan has been a leader in the fight to make health care more affordable for all hard working Granite Staters and Americans. Senator Hassan joined Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and a number of her colleagues in introducing comprehensive legislation to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. The Affordable Medications Act will help hold large pharmaceutical companies accountable for high prices and bring down costs for both consumers and taxpayers by allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, permitting the safe importation of affordable prescription drugs from places like Canada, ending the senseless tax breaks for drug companies that allow them to take tax deductions on the billions of dollars they spend on advertising, and more.