Burgess Remarks at Health Subcommittee Markup
March 27, 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 today’s markup.
Dr. Burgess’ Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Chairwoman Eshoo. This morning we are marking up some of the many bills for which we have had legislative hearings this Congress. I think that there are numerous bills on which we can work in a bipartisan manner, if our fellow Members on the other side of the dais are willing to find consensus with us.
There was one bill that Rep. Griffith and others on the Subcommittee offered to work along with Chairwoman Eshoo that would have required further disclosure of information to consumers regarding short-term limited duration health insurance plans. It is disappointing to see that this bill was not included in today’s markup. Chairwoman Eshoo’s bill would have provided Members on both sides of the dais with an opportunity to work together to ensure that access to these affordable health care plans, which were legal under the Obama Administration, are marketed appropriately so that consumers would have adequate information to assess what their options.
I would also like to note that Republicans are in support of working to provide flexibility to states to address the affordability and accessibility of health care insurance for their citizens through reinsurance and other mechanisms. I introduced H.R. 1510, the Premium Relief Act of 2019, which would do just that. I hope that going forward we will be able to work on this issue together.
I believe every Member of this Subcommittee can agree that drug prices are too high. Our witnesses at the hearing two weeks ago imparted much knowledge of the generic drug approval process onto Members. I remain disappointed that the Food and Drug Administration did not testify at our hearing, and that we still do not have written technical assistance on all of these bills; however, there are a number of these bills that could, if amended, improve competition in the generics marketplace. As our witness in the legislative hearing noted, we should first seek to do no harm. Let us remember that under Commissioner Gottlieb last year, the FDA approved a record total of 781 generic drugs, up from the previous record of 763 set in 2017.
I do look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion on a number of these bills. I would like to thank Chairwoman Eshoo for her leadership on H.R. 1520, the Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019. Biosimilars play an important role in providing more affordable and accessible drugs to patients. Anyone who has tried to navigate the Purple Book has likely noticed the cumbersome nature of the PDF and wondered why it is not as streamlined as the Orange Book. While I believe that the legislation as introduced still requires some work, we have received feedback from the Food and Drug Administration that we have incorporated into a manager’s amendment. I hope that the Subcommittee will adopt these changes, as they will improve upon the policy contained in this legislation and make it more useful for developers of biosimilars, in addition to providers, payors, and patients.
I would also like to thank Representative Buddy Carter for offering his two bills at this markup. The BLOCKING Act will address the issue of exclusivity parking that Secretary Azar discussed in his testimony before this Subcommittee two weeks ago. Mr. Carter’s other piece of legislation, the Payment Commission Data Act, will allow the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission to access information regarding certain drug rebates. Given that both MedPAC and MACPAC provide Congress with recommendations on how to address the issue of drug pricing, it is important that they have this information so that their recommendations to us are fully-informed.
I am disappointed that we were unable to come to a consensus on a reinsurance policy and CREATES. To that effect, we will be offering some commonsense amendments to reflect the outstanding changes we believe should be made. That being said, I do look forward to supporting a number of these bills today. Thank you, Madam Chair, I yield back.
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