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Senator Hassan Presses Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra on Expanding Access to Medication Assisted-Treatment

Senator Hassan Also Continues Push to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Finance Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder and lowering prescription drug prices.


You can watch Senator Hassan’s questioning here.


Medication-Assisted Treatment


“Health care providers in New Hampshire and experts before this Committee have made clear that medication-assisted treatment is critical for individuals with opioid use disorders. With medication-assisted treatment, more people can enter and remain in recovery,” said Senator Hassan.


Secretary Becerra committed to continue working to lift restrictions on medication-assisted treatment, and also reiterated the importance of this life-saving treatment: “The science, and the evidence show that medication-assisted treatment works and so we want to make sure that we give providers the flexibility to offer that treatment to a lot of folks who will benefit from it.”


Last year and following Senator Hassan’s advocacy, the Biden administration removed some requirements that limited health care providers’ ability to prescribe buprenorphine. Senator Hassan is continuing to press for passage of the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, a bipartisan bill that she reintroduced last year with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), that would fully eliminate these needless restrictions.


Prescription Drug Pricing


Senator Hassan also spoke about the real-life consequences of rising prescription drug prices.


“As drug prices soar, Granite Staters are rationing life-saving medications because they can’t afford them, choosing between filling their prescriptions and putting food on the table,” said Senator Hassan. “One of my constituents stopped taking her blood pressure medication for periods of time and suffered a stroke and is now in long term care, something she was hoping to avoid as she aged. Congress has to take immediate action to cut drug prices.”


In response, Secretary Becerra echoed Senator Hassan’s concerns and discussed the importance of Senator Hassan’s push to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.


“One in three Americans have reported to us that they don’t take the medication they’re supposed to because they can’t afford to continue to use it,” said Secretary Becerra. “There is no reason why when something is important and precious as a medical service or a prescription drug, you can’t get the best price for your patient or your loved one.”


Senator Hassan has pushed to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and also advanced bipartisan legislation in 2019 to lower prescription drugs costs by enacting a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries and cracking down on pharmaceutical companies that raise drug prices higher than inflation. In addition, Senator Hassan led successful, bipartisan efforts with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to help end the practice of surprise medical billing, which is now in effect. Senators Hassan and Cassidy also successfully passed into law their bipartisan legislation to enhance education about biosimilar drug products in an effort to increase competition and lower drug costs.