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Burgess Introduces the EMPOWER for Health Act
Posted by on May 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, reintroduced H.R. 2781, the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019.

“By supporting physician workforce programs, the EMPOWER for Health Act of 2019 will ensure that patients in North Texas and around the country have access to skilled physicians and medical professionals – regardless of where they live. This legislation reauthorizes key Title VII funding, which increases access to physicians and other providers in underserved areas, and promotes training opportunities for physicians to maintain and improve their skills. This bipartisan bill has broad support, and I urge the Energy and Commerce Committee to consider it soon.”

Dr. Burgess first introduced this legislation, formerly known as the EMPOWER Act, in the 115th Congress. The full text is available here.

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Burgess Statement on the So-Called “Equality” Act
Posted by on May 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, released the following statement on H.R. 5.

H.R. 5 is poorly-drafted legislation that, like nearly every other bill House Democrats have brought to the Floor this Congress, has next to zero chance of becoming law. Instead of playing politics, I urge my peers to work toward achieving real results for all Americans.”

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An Update on Border Security
Posted by Emma Thomson on May 17, 2019


Yesterday, Dr. Burgess joined President Trump at the White House as he outlined his plan to reform America's immigration policies and secure the southern border. In this weekly address, Dr. Burgess offers a path forward. You can read his full remarks here
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A Bipartisan Path to Lower Drug Prices
Posted by on May 16, 2019





Full Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to H.R. 987. I am concerned that the Democrats are using bipartisan drug pricing bills to pay for partisan politics. These bills are proof that we can work together across the aisle and do what is best for our constituents. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post so eloquently said yesterday in the Health 202, “Democrats are putting a political pothole in the way of bipartisan drug pricing bills.”

The Democrats have decided to use the $5 billion in savings from those policies to fund state-based ACA marketplaces, the Federal-Facilitated Marketplace Navigator program, ACA outreach and enrollment, and take away health care choices from Americans.

This morning, STAT published an article entitled, “In Washington, a partisan approach to lowering drug costs leaves Democrats doubting their own party leadership.” As STAT reported, even House Democrats don’t understand why the Speaker of the House and party leadership have decided to politicize bipartisan bills with widespread support. The chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee is on the record as saying she was “not a fan of what happened.”

Republicans stand ready to work on solutions. Congressman Mark Meadows told STAT that the Democrats’ political stunt is a “wasted opportunity.”

He continued: “You’ve got the chairman of the Freedom Caucus willing to work with Democrats on making real, structural reforms on prescription drug prices. And what do they do? They put a poison pill in, trying to augment a failing health care-delivery system.”

So, I ask my friends on the other side of the dais, why are you intent on tanking good legislation that can deliver real results for real people? You say you want to lower drug prices, but your actions speak loudly otherwise.

Fortunately, I am not just here to complain. I also have a solution to the scenario that we are facing on the floor today. On Tuesday night at the Rules Committee, I offered an amendment that would take these three drug policies and use the $5 billion of savings from those policies to pay for bipartisan public health priorities. I have also introduced H.R. 2700, the Lowering Prescription Drug Costs and Extending Community Health Centers and Other Public Health Priorities Act.

H.R. 2700 couples the bipartisan drug pricing policies with reauthorizations of programs such as Community Health Centers, Special Diabetes programs, and National Health Service Corps. Look, reauthorizations are tough. I know - I was chairman of the Health Subcommittee in the last Congress. September seems like a long way away, but many of these programs expire at the end of the fiscal year.

The time to get these things done is now. We’ve taken no specific action toward reauthorization of these programs. Again, September seems far away but we’ve got to account for the time it takes to move through regular order.

On the other issues that we’re facing today, including the short-term limited duration rule repeal. According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, the policy to repeal the Trump Administration’s short-term, limited duration insurance rule would result in 500,000 individuals becoming uninsured.

Is this what you want? Isn’t it better that people have some form of insurance than none at all?

I take meetings in my office back home in my district with families that cannot afford the high premium and high deductible plans they have been forced to buy off the ACA exchange. These individuals need lower-cost options, and that is exactly what these limited duration plans provide. States already regulate these plans and have the authority to disallow them at the state level, if they so choose. This is a great case for federalism.

To quote from the Congressional Budget Office report: the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that if the Trump Administration rule would be struck down, roughly 1.5 million fewer people would purchase short-term plans. Of those, more than 500,000 would instead purchase non-group coverage in the market places established by the Affordable Care Act and 500,000 would become uninsured.

The drug policies contained in both H.R. 987 and my bill, H.R. 2700, are commonsense, bipartisan measures to lower drug prices for our constituents. I am disappointed that they have been rolled into a partisan package that will be dead upon arrival in the Senate. We were able to work together in Committee to ensure that these policies would improve access to generics for American patients. I hope that Democratic Leadership will consider the bipartisan nature of policies when moving packages to the floor in the future.

The complete video of Dr. Burgess’ remarks is available here.

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Burgess Stands Strong on Border Security
Posted by Emma Thomson on May 16, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, released the following statement after President Trump introduced his plan to secure the southern border.

“Today I joined President Trump at the White House as he announced his commonsense proposal to secure our borders and protect the American people. Only seven months into fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection has apprehended or turned away more than 500,000 people without legal status on the southern border. At these record-breaking numbers, there is no question that the humanitarian and security crisis on the border is a true emergency.

“Between reforming our immigration system and bolstering physical border security, President Trump has presented a clear path forward; however, he cannot solve this crisis alone. Congress must stand ready to put partisan politics aside and pass meaningful solutions. I am committed to working alongside the President and fellow Members of Congress to provide vital humanitarian assistance and ensure that those on the ground have the resources they need to respond to the overwhelming surge of border crossings.

“The situation on our border is a crisis that requires Congressional action. We are far past the time for petty politics, and I urge all Members of Congress to compromise on solutions that will deliver results that the Americans in North Texas and around the country rightfully expect of us.”

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Burgess Introduces Legislation to Tackle Drug Prices and Extend Vital Public Health Programs
Posted by on May 14, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, introduced H.R. 2700, which includes commonsense measures to lower drug prices and extend funding for critical, bipartisan public health priorities, including community health centers, the national health service corps, and the special diabetes programs – all of which are set to expire at the end of September 2019.

“This legislation includes commonsense, bipartisan measures to lower drug prices for the American people – policies that have passed unanimously out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Combined, these drug policies save nearly $5 billion dollars, but House Democrats have decided to use those savings to pay for political efforts to stabilize Obamacare that will be dead on arrival should they reach the Senate.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that House Democrats continue to commandeer bipartisan policy to meet their own political ends, instead of reauthorizing important public health programs upon which our constituents rely. While Democrats say that lowering drug prices and promoting public health programs are priorities, their actions tell a different story. Instead of continuing to play politics with our health care, I encourage all Members to support this legislation that can deliver lower drug prices and access to quality health care for the American people.”

H.R. 2700 has nearly 30 original co-sponsors, including each Republican Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The full text is available here.

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Reps. Burgess and Roby Urge Continued FDA Oversight of Mail-Order Abortion Drugs
Posted by on May 10, 2019

Washington, DC — Today Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), joined by 116 fellow Members of Congress, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to urge continued oversight of the sale of illegal mail-order abortion drugs to the United States.

The FDA recently ordered Aid Access to cease its illegal sale of misbranded and unapproved drugs that induce abortion, following reporting on the company’s activities that violate FDA safety protocols. In the letter, the Members of Congress thank Acting FDA Commissioner Norman Sharpless for acting to protect American women and their unborn children, and urge the FDA to continue its work to combat the practice of importing dangerous drugs.

“As an OB/GYN who practiced medicine for nearly three decades, I am concerned about the consequences of unapproved mail-order abortion drugs,” said Rep. Burgess. “The dangerous business that Aid Access is conducting is harmful to the health of American women, who deserve quality health care throughout the course of a pregnancy. I am grateful for the actions of Dr. Sharpless and his predecessor Dr. Gottlieb to stop illicit drug importation, and I urge the FDA to continue this lifesaving work.”

“By violating the FDA’s safety protocols, Aid Access and other European mail-order abortion companies endanger the health of American women and their children,” said Rep. Roby. “The FDA must take decisive action against these illegal activities immediately, and I was glad to join so many of my colleagues in sending the clear message that we will not tolerate these dangerous practices. I look forward to receiving Dr. Sharpless’ response to our letter.” 

“We thank our pro-life allies, Rep. Burgess and Rep. Roby, for their strong leadership and are encouraged to see over 100 members of Congress urging the FDA to continue its oversight of dangerous mail-order abortion drugs from overseas,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The abortion industry’s reckless push to circumvent the law and turn every post office into an abortion center shows they put profit before women’s health and safety.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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Burgess Remarks on Lowering Prescription Drug Prices
Posted by on May 9, 2019

Washington, D.C. —Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, delivered the following opening remarks at this morning’s Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing.

Dr. Burgess’ Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Chairwoman Eshoo. I appreciate your work in organizing the hearing we are holding this morning. When the two of us sat down at the start of your term as Chair to discuss bipartisan goals for this Congress, we agreed that the drug supply chain hearing that I chaired in December 2017 was immensely helpful. Today’s hearing is similar in nature to that hearing we held last Congress, but provides a more company-specific, rather than industry-wide, perspective of each link in the drug supply chain.

I am hopeful that the witnesses here today will impart their firsthand experience and knowledge of the supply chain onto the Members of this Subcommittee and build upon the foundation we laid last Congress.

The nature of the current U.S. drug supply chain system is complex and has multiple stakeholders involved in each step of the price negotiation process. There are also actors who are essential to the supply chain, but that do not affect the price of a medication. Bringing these stakeholders to the table today will provide us with an opportunity to learn about each player’s roll in the drug supply chain as well as their impact, if any, on pricing and help to inform our decisions as Congress moves forward in its efforts to address drug pricing.

It is my hope our discussion today is substantive and largely focused on the patients who are prescribed these medications because, at the end of the day, they are who matter most in this conversation. They are bearing the cost of these medications.

Prescription drugs continue to play a vital role in the United States health care system, from significantly improving patients’ lives to producing health care savings through fewer hospitalizations and medical procedures. A patient’s access to prescription drugs is a key health care issue for Americans, and within that context is the debate over affordability.

Improving access to life-saving treatments for consumers is a bipartisan priority, and I would like to see us continue to build upon the successes that we have seen from 21st Century Cures and other pieces of legislation to spur biomedical innovation. That being said, it is imperative to ensure that our health care system is ready to pay for the treatments and cures in today’s development pipelines when they reach patients in tomorrow’s hospitals and doctors’ offices.

I hope that this hearing will shed some light on the inner workings of price negotiations between the stakeholders. This Subcommittee has done good work on the issue of drug pricing this Congress, especially with the Purple Book and Orange Book bills passing the House yesterday, but I hope that we can find a bipartisan way to move forward with additional legislation.

The hearing last Congress involved a fair amount of finger-pointing among witnesses, and I expect that we will see a bit of that today. I would like to remind our witnesses that our goal is to solve a problem, and that we have invited you this morning to offer quality input so that your voice can be heard.

While there are legitimate differences of opinion, I recognize that every participant here this morning does aspire to the common goal of saving lives and alleviating human suffering. Out of these areas of disagreement – I hope to identify areas of consensus so that we can begin delivering solutions to the problems identified this morning.

Thank you, Chairwoman Eshoo, I yield back.

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Securing a Better Deal for American Workers
Posted by on May 9, 2019


Dr. Burgess joined Maria Bartiromo to discuss the U.S. trade negotiations with China. As he said in the interview, President Trump is in these conversations to win for the American people.
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Burgess: PTAC is Paying Dividends for American Patients
Posted by on May 9, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, released the following statement on the Department of Health and Human Service’s new CMS Primary Care Initiative, adopted from a proposal drafted by the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee, to deliver better value for American patients.

“I helped create the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee as part of the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 to give physicians a voice at the table in Medicare and Medicaid innovation,” said Dr. Burgess. “Nearly five years later, it is rewarding to see this committee developing ideas that will help American patients access quality care. I am grateful that Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma value PTAC’s expertise and are willing to implement innovative solutions. Clearly, PTAC is paying dividends for American patients.”

As a physician, Dr. Burgess understands the necessity of Americans’ access to quality primary care. HHS has reported that the Primary Care Initiative includes a new set of payment models that will transform primary care to deliver better value for patients throughout the healthcare system.

“For years, policymakers have talked about building an American healthcare system that focuses on primary care, pays for value, and places the patient at the center. These new models represent the biggest step ever taken toward that vision,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar, in remarks to the American Medical Association last month. “Building on the experience of previous models and ideas of past administrations, these models will test out paying for health and outcomes rather than procedures on a much larger scale than ever before. These models can serve as an inflection point for value-based transformation of our healthcare system, and American patients and providers will be the first ones to benefit.”

Background:
As the author of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2019 (MACRA), Dr. Burgess highly values the role of the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC), which serves as an advisory committee on physician-focused payment models. Under MACRA, the HHS secretary is required by law to review PTAC’s comments and recommendations on submitted proposals when considering the implementation of new physician-focused payment models in Medicare.

For additional information about the new Primary Care Initiative, please see the official announcement.

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