Senate HELP Committee Hearing on The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 | Citizens Against Government Waste
The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Senate HELP Committee Hearing on The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on its draft legislation, “The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019.”  It is an effort to get something done where there is agreement between the Republicans and the Democrats.  The legislation addresses several issues such as surprise billing, prescription drug prices, healthcare transparency, improving public health and privacy issues with respect to educating the public on general healthcare matters, such as increasing awareness of vaccines, and exchanging healthcare information while protecting privacy.

One of the hottest issues in healthcare is surprise billing, a growing problem across the country.  Surprise billing occurs when a patient plays by the rules, goes to an in-network hospital for emergency or other care, such as surgery, and gets a bill by an out-of-network provider costing thousands of dollars.  While the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) would prefer the states solve the surprise billing issue for the markets they regulate, the HELP committee bill respects the laws that states that have instituted to fix the problem, focuses on self-insured employer plans, and provides a baseline for states without surprise billing laws in place.  The legislation offers three options to address the issue and are worthy of debate.

With regard to transparency in drug pricing and healthcare in general, CCAGW is for all consumers being able to find out exactly what they will be expected to pay for a pharmaceutical or medical procedure.  However, CCAGW would not support exposing the negotiated prices between payors and providers since it could harm competition and consumers in the long run, as laid out in a July 2, 2015 Federal Trade Commission paper, “Price Transparency of TMI.” 

The HELP Committee is also interested in the Food and Drug Administration updating information in the Purple and Orange Books, publications that provide important information with regard to generic and biosimilar substitution that would help increase competition, and how citizen petitions are used with regard to drug approvals.

It is refreshing to see the HELP committee members working together to improve healthcare delivery and we look forward to learning more about “The Lower Health Care Costs Act” during the hearing.

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