12.18.2019 / Press Release
Statement: Congress Fails to Put Families First in End of Year Funding Deal
Washington, D.C. – Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA, issued the following statement on the end of year budget package under consideration by the House and Senate.
“This week, the House and Senate are voting on end of year spending legislation that funds the government through the end of Fiscal Year 2020 and extends certain health care programs until May 2020. Once again, special interests won and health care consumers received a lump of coal in their stockings this December. The end of year omnibus appropriations bills provide billions of dollars in tax cuts to health care industry — but provide precious little for millions of families who continue to struggle with high drug costs and surprise medical bills.
Despite the support of the White House and valiant efforts by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, and Reps. Frank Pallone and Greg Walden, their bipartisan legislation to forever ban surprise medical bills was left on the cutting room floor as congressional leaders made their end of year budget arrangements. More than 10,000 families will continue to be hit with surprise medical bills every day.
Equally disappointing is that strong bipartisan legislation drafted by Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden also failed to make the cut. Their legislation would cap out of pocket costs for seniors in Medicare and keep drug makers from spiking the price of drugs already on the market.
The most egregious aspect is that, beginning in 2020, consumers will be made worse off by the end of year spending deal. By reclassifying some drugs as biologics, the spending bill handed pharmaceutical companies an additional seven years during which they can charge consumers whatever they want without having to worry about lower-cost competition entering the market. And by failing to renew a provision included in the Affordable Care Act that slowed the growth in the Part D out-of-pocket threshold, Congress is forcing people on Medicare to pay an additional $1,250 next year before they reach the catastrophic coverage phase.
These failures represent a bitter disappointment for millions of people who voted for change in the last election. Congress must make their New Year’s resolution to do better by America’s families in 2020.”