Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, gave the below opening remarks at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s markup of H.R. 3.
Dr. Burgess’ Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to say that I feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment and lost opportunity in this room. A lost opportunity to bring meaningful policy through this committee. A lost opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner. Most importantly, a lost opportunity to write a law that would make a real difference in the lives of the constituents in all of our districts. I don’t know about you, but I do not believe I was elected by my constituents to write bills that would go nowhere. We are here to write bills that can become law. Mr. Chairman, it is very clear that H.R. 3 will never become law.
This bill was drafted by the Speaker’s office and forced through this committee, sidelining every other achievable drug pricing policy in the works. There is bipartisan consensus that we should cap out-of-pocket costs for our seniors in Medicare Part D. This is a policy that we can and should draft together – in fact we had a bipartisan Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means request for information on the topic of restructuring Part D in May. I have a binder right here that is full of 83 comments from stakeholders that we received in response to that request that were informing bipartisan discussions and legislative drafting. The Senate Finance Committee has also put forth a policy to rework Part D. If we worked together in a thoughtful bipartisan, bicameral manner on restructuring Medicare Part D, the President would sign that legislation – he even said that drug pricing was a top priority, and our constituents would see lower out-of-pocket drug costs.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. If H.R. 3 was going to become law, the bill would have gone through regular order and there would have been time for a quality assessment of H.R. 3 – or at the very least, a real score from the Congressional Budget Office. The commitment from Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Eshoo to have a subcommittee markup would have been respected. The request for a full committee hearing by Ranking Member Walden and I would have been taken seriously. Instead, we skipped straight to a full committee markup and were cheated out of having a thoughtful dialogue and amendment process.
When my constituents ask me why Congress has failed to act on drug pricing this year, I will explain what could have been. We could have capped out of pocket costs in Part D. We could have improved drug price transparency. Instead, H.R. 3 threatens to rob American patients of much needed lifesaving treatments and cures by hampering innovation.
With that, I yield back.”