The Congresswoman Has Long Worked to Lower Drug Costs for Virginians — including by Working to Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate, Holding Drug Companies Accountable for Hiking Costs on Consumers, & Fighting to Cap the Price of Insulin
CULPEPER, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today hosted President Joe Biden in Virginia’s Seventh District to discuss ongoing efforts to lower prescription drug costs for Virginians.
Between 2012 and 2017, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatments in Virginia increased by nearly 60 percent, while the annual income for Virginians only increased by 8.5 percent.
At Germanna Community College’s Culpeper County campus, Spanberger and Biden were joined by several Virginians who have been negatively impacted by rising drug prices, as well as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra. Among those in attendance was Joshua Davis, a 12-year old boy with type 1 diabetes from Midlothian who introduced President Biden.
During her remarks, Spanberger highlighted why she has long focused on lowering drug costs for Virginia families. Additionally, she spoke about her commitment to capping insulin prices for Virginians with diabetes, her continued efforts to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, and the need to actually deliver drug cost-focused legislation to the President’s desk. Click here for video of Spanberger’s remarks, and click here for video of the full event. A full transcript of her remarks is below.
Hello — my name is Abigail Spanberger, and I am proud to serve Virginia’s Seventh District each and every day in Congress. On behalf of our district, I’d like to welcome President Biden and his team to Culpeper County. Welcome to our Commonwealth, Mr. President.
Thank you, Secretary Becerra, for your introduction — and thank you for your attention to the rising cost of prescription drugs. I look forward to working closely with you in the future.
Thank you to Mayor Reaves and members of the Culpeper Town Council for being with us today.
Today, I am proud to bring the President of the United States here to one of the campuses of Germanna. Mr. President, this institution does tremendous workforce training — and they truly have a heart for not just the careers of their students, but also for their wellbeing. If anyone in your administration has questions about how to get the next generation prepared and how to keep our country competitive, I would encourage them to look no further than this place.
Throughout this pandemic, places like Culpeper have looked out for their neighbors. People have banded together and they have supported small businesses, first responders, police, and healthcare workers — all of whom make our communities stronger.
We have seen tremendous progress in the battle against this virus. But even in the midst of this moment of recovery, our communities still struggle with the sticker price of many items — including and especially at the pharmacy counter.
COVID has exacerbated what was always already a staggering, day-to-day cost for Virginia families — and we are long overdue in addressing it.
Today is about bringing renewed focus — and more importantly, urgency — to lowering drug prices. Since I first ran for Congress, this issue has been top-of-mind for my constituents. They are outraged that in the United of States of America they have to pay 10 times as much (or more) as what patients in other countries pay for the same medication.
For our neighbors with common health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, I consistently hear about how skyrocketing drug prices are making it harder to stay ahead — and harder to plan for the future.
I hear about delayed payments on rent or the mortgage. I hear about parents sitting at the dining room table and deciding whether they should drain their child’s education fund to help pay for their child’s medication. And I hear from seniors who are skipping a meal because they cannot afford the medication they need to survive.
These are the personal experiences of Virginians, of the Virginians I represent — but if you were to throw a dart anywhere on a map of the United States, you would hear these exact same stories.
Part of our recovery means stopping these stories from remaining a common refrain. In Congress, I welcome any effort that can deliver lower drug prices to the people I serve. It is worth our time.
Because giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices — and giving Virginians peace of mind about an aging parent or relative is worth our time.
And capping the price of insulin so that kids can just be kids and not have to worry about another trip to the ER — that is worth our time.
And holding drug companies and PBMs accountable for increasing the prices that cancer patients pay — all behind a shroud of secrecy? That is worth our time.
And lawmakers have spent a lot of time talking about lowering drug costs — and we know the American people are behind this push. But we need to buck up and get it done.
The Virginians who are with us today have their own stories of how high drug costs have impacted them — and Congress needs to demonstrate that we are not just listening to them, not just talking to them — but we are delivering for them.
Now, I have the honor of introducing one such Seventh District family with a powerful story. Shannon Davis is a dedicated teacher and she is here with her son, Joshua.
For the record, Joshua is one of the bravest constituents I have ever met. And he is already becoming one of the strongest advocates on this issue — meeting with our office, calling for changes to the practices of drug middlemen, and speaking out on behalf of kids like him with Type 1 Diabetes. If we all displayed the leadership and maturity of Joshua, I think we’d be able to tackle way more challenges than just the rising costs of prescription drugs.
I am proud to know the Davis family. And I am proud to know that they are using their story to bring much-needed attention to out-of-pocket costs and how they are impacting them and their neighbors. It is now my honor to introduce the President of the United States, President Joe Biden, and Shannon and Joshua Davis.
Today’s official event builds on Spanberger’s efforts to respond to the concerns of Virginians and lower prescription drug prices for families, seniors, veterans, and those with chronic conditions — like diabetes. In Congress, Spanberger has long worked to lower drug costs and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable, including by:
- Working to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. In November 2021, Spanberger voted with a majority of the U.S. House to advance the Build Back Better framework. This framework included provisions that would give Medicare the power to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs and require drug manufacturers to pay a rebate to the HHS Secretary if they increase the cost of their drugs faster than inflation. In September 2021, Spanberger spearheaded an effort to preserve Medicare drug price negotiation in the legislation after it was initially stripped from a draft version of the framework by House Democrats. In the last Congress, she also voted with a bipartisan majority to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — which would also give Medicare the power to negotiate.
- Responding to the needs of diabetic Virginians by supporting legislation that would cap insulin prices on Medicare and private insurance plans. In voting to advance the Build Back Better framework, Spanberger also voted to establish the first true out-of-pocket cap in Medicare Part D of $2,000 per year in 2024. Additionally, the framework would cap insulin costs at $35 per month for all enrollees in Medicare Part D and in private insurance plans starting in 2023.
- Protecting the 340B Drug Discount Program. In July 2021, Spanberger introduced the bipartisan Preserving Rules Ordered for the Entities Covered Through (PROTECT) 340B Act to prohibit insurers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from discriminating against 340B providers or their contract pharmacies on the basis of their status as providers or pharmacies that dispense 340B drugs. The previous month, in May 2021, she led a bipartisan 226-Member push calling on HHS to take immediate action against drug manufacturers that refuse to comply with 340B drug discounts and require manufacturers to refund providers for months of unlawful overcharges. This push led HHS to send formal letters to six U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers with policies that have resulted in overcharges and are in direct violation of the federal 340B statute.
- Holding PBMs accountable. Spanberger has long worked to lower insulin costs for Virginians living with diabetes — and to hold companies accountable for increasing these prices through negotiations. In 2019, the U.S. House passed her bipartisan Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act on a vote of 403-0 to help tackle the prescription drug affordability crisis and bring greater transparency to prescription drug negotiations. And in 2021, she also introduced the bipartisan Improving Transparency to Lower Drug Costs Act to hold PBMs accountable by requiring PBMs to report their aggregate rebates, discounts, and other price concessions for prescription drugs to a public website.