WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (N.M.-01), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Tuesday affirmed the need for the United States to adopt universal health insurance as Americans see cost savings from the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act during a hearing on Prescription Benefit Management systems.
The Inflation Reduction Act lowers prescription drug prices by empowering Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, as well as rebates for higher costing drugs. The law also capped insulin at $35 per month, with the addition of 10 new drugs per year by 2026, and 20 new drugs per year starting in 2029.
“I think a lot of people don’t really know what the Inflation Reduction Act is,” Rep. Stansbury said. “Not only did it address pharmaceutical prices, but it extended access to Medicaid, in New Mexico for thousands of individuals, those are lives that will be saved.”
During her questioning, Rep. Stansbury asked witness Dr. Frederick Isasi, Executive Director of Families USA, what else can be done to build on the Inflation Reduction Act to help Americans. Dr. Isasi noted that Congress should prioritize extending negotiated prices to the 180 million people who receive employer-based insurance and expanding the number of drugs subject to negotiation to at least 50 by 2026.
“If we really believe that health care is a human right, then it’s not just about one bipartisan hearing,” Rep. Stansbury said. “It’s about making sure that the laws that we pass and the arguments that we have in these chambers actually reflect that we believe and are going to take action to make health care a reality for every American.”
Rep. Stansbury’s full remarks as delivered are below:
Rep. Stansbury: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I want to say thank you also to our witnesses. Thank you for serving, caring for, and fighting for our families and communities.
I personally believe that health care is a human right, a fundamental right. The ability to access health care obviously is not just about the dignity and wellbeing of our communities, but about the survival of our family members. Yet millions of Americans and thousands of New Mexicans struggle to access even the most basic care.
In New Mexico in my home state, over 60 percent of our community members are dependent on Medicaid and Medicare to receive care of any kind. We have one of the highest rates of Medicaid and Medicare need in the entire country.
You know, today, we’ve talked a lot about policy, we’ve talked about very technical issues around billing and insurance. But at the end of the day, what we’re talking about is people’s lives. These are our parents, or grandparents, or children, people who are unable to actually access lifesaving care medications, because number one, they cannot afford it. Number two, in New Mexico, we have such a severe provider shortage, they’re not actually able to access providers. And I think as we heard today, these for-profit companies are helping to drive more and more care providers out of business. So, when we talk about these issues, we’re talking about the life and death of our communities.
And for me, this is a very personal issue. I grew up in a very low-income family. Before the Affordable Care Act, I did not have health care insurance. I have watched as countless members of my community could not access care or could not access lifesaving medication.
And that’s why I’ve spent much of my elected career since I was first elected in 2018 fighting to change this broken system, advocating in the state legislature to reform prescription drugs, and prior authorizations and other necessary improvements in insurance, and here fighting for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. We’ve talked a lot this morning about the Inflation Reduction Act, and the ways in which it will enable Medicare in particular to address prescription drug costs.
But I was struck Mr. Isasi, in your testimony. And I really appreciated that you provided a pretty detailed description of many of the ways we can build on the IRA to address these issues. So, I wonder if you could briefly just share some of those solutions so that we can walk away with some real solutions?
Dr. Isasi: Absolutely. Thank you for the question. First and foremost, we have to extend the negotiated price to the 180 million Americans who have employer sponsored coverage, who right now, don’t get the benefit of that, too.
We have to expand the number of drugs right now. You know, in 2026, we’ll have 10 drugs negotiated, right, we should have at least 50 that are subject to negotiation. So those would be two really, really important reforms, make sure the inflationary caps apply across all patient populations, etc.
Rep. Stansbury: Yeah, and in your testimony, you said, and I quote, that the Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant legislation ever passed by Congress to end the abusive price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.
And I think a lot of people don’t really know what the Inflation Reduction Act is. And not only did it address pharmaceutical prices, but it extended access to Medicaid in New Mexico for thousands of individuals. Those are lives that will be saved. Those are people who can go to see doctors like Dr. Atkins, in order to get lifesaving care and to get their medications.
What we do in this chamber isn’t just a bunch of talking points.
And, you know, I want to add on the note that my colleague from Texas made that while I do appreciate the bipartisan tone and tenor of this particular hearing, we are in the midst of a battle right now in the halls of this chamber, over our debt ceiling. And part of the cost of that battle right now is our colleagues across the line are threatening to take away access to Medicaid for millions of Americans.
While we can sit here in this hearing room and talk about how discouraged we are that these for-profit companies are price gouging our elders and our family members, our friends across the aisle are actually trying to take away your health care right now. So, let’s be real about what’s actually happening in the chambers of this Congress right now. I appreciate the conversation. I do appreciate that.
We’ve talked about some real solutions today. I appreciate Dr. Atkins, your lived experience and your sharing about your patients. Thank you for bringing those stories into this room.
But if we really believe that healthcare is a human right, then it’s not just about one bipartisan hearing. It’s about making sure that the laws that we pass, the arguments that we have in these chambers actually reflect that we believe and are going to take action to make healthcare a reality for every American, and with that I yield back.