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Arrington Healthcare Reform Bills Pass in Final Week of Congress

WASHINGTON – On Monday, December 21st, the House and Senate passed several pieces of healthcare reform legislation led by Rep. Arrington.

 

“Rural hospital closures and prescription drug pricing are two of the most urgent and consequential issues facing our country, said Rep. Arrington. Patients in rural America deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing their families can access care in case of an emergency, and seniors should not be rationing food or electricity in order to pay for their medications. Seeing these three pieces of legislation signed into law by President Trump is incredibly humbling, and I believe these policies will truly help patients and families across the nation. 

 

"The new “step-down” payment model will save hundreds of rural hospitals from closing, including some in West Texas. Hospitals should have the flexibility to offer the services their community needs and tailor care to their patient population, not one-size fits-all, government mandates. Removing these unnecessary and burdensome regulations and giving community hospitals the freedom to choose their services will drive down costs and strengthen access to health care throughout Rural America.

 

"The Shop RX Act and the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act will offer much-needed transparency into the drug supply chain. For too long, Americans have been kept in the dark on prescription drug pricing and forced to accept skyrocketing costs of medication. These bills crack down on secretive schemes and empower patients to truly understand what they are paying for when they go to the pharmacy.

 

"Our nation’s ability to maintain a safe, affordable, and abundant supply of food and energy relies on a healthy rural America. While our healthcare delivery system is still in need of significant reforms, these three bills are a step in the right direction towards lower costs, higher quality care, and access for all.” 

 

Healthcare provisions passed in the final days of the 116th Congress include:

 

  • “The Save Rural Communities Act” — Forty percent of rural hospitals operate in the red and a rash of closures across the country has jeopardized access to basic health care for people living in rural communities. Costly government mandates prevent hospitals from adjusting their services to meet the community’s needs and balance their budget. The Save Rural Communities Act would repeal these mandates and give rural hospitals the freedom and flexibility to scale down to an outpatient only, 24-hour emergency care center. This new “rural step-down model” will be lifesaving to these facilities, which are often the largest employer and only emergency health care provider within 50 miles.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately further exacerbated the hospital closure crisis in rural America,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. “Innovative models that enable rural providers to meet the needs of their communities are needed to ensure rural communities prosper. Earlier this year, Representative Arrington announced the introduction of the Save Rural Communities Act at NRHA’s Annual Rural Health Policy Institute to provide rural hospitals an innovative path forward. The inclusion of the legislation in the year-end COVID-19 relief package is a win for rural providers and patients. NRHA is proud to work alongside Representative Arrington to champion meaningful legislation on behalf of rural America.”

 

"The new Rural Emergency Hospital Designation included in the upcoming 2020-2021 spending package represents landmark legislation for rural health care," Chief Administrative Officer of Covenant Health Steve Beck said. "Not since 1997 when the Critical Access Designation was passed in the Balance Budget Act has legislation been passed to create innovate models on how to deliver rural health care. With this measure, many of our smaller, rural communities will maintain access to quality health care and not be forced to otherwise close their local hospital doors."

 

"We are very pleased to see components of the bill addressing some of the rural hospital and rural health challenges,” said Don McBeath, with the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals. “These action will help protect access to care in rural areas. We are also appreciate Representative Arrington who was a driving force behind these provisions."

 

  • “The Shop RX Act of 2019” — For too long, seniors on Medicare have been unfairly subjected to an convoluted and confusing process for buying their prescription drugs. The Shop RX Act will ensure that health insurers with prescription drug plans offer comprehensive, real-time information to Medicare beneficiaries, allowing their doctors to see the cost of a drug and cheaper alternatives before writing a prescription. This commonsense measure will also empower seniors with the information to purchase the right drugs at the right price for their individual needs.

 

"Real time benefit tools allow patients to know what lower cost prescription drug options are available before they get prescribed and dispensed. This is sorely needed right now. We commend Congressman Arrington for his tireless work to add this provision to the coronavirus package," said Joel White, President of the Council For Affordable Health Coverage.

 

"Giving access to prescription drug benefit information in real-time, at the point of care is an important step for both providers and patients in the ongoing fight to reduce burdens and costs in our healthcare system. HIA applauds Representative Arrington for his successful effort to add this to the new law," said Brett Meeks, VP of Health Innovation Alliance.

 

  • “The Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act” — Insurers negotiate drug prices with Pharma, but it’s done completely in the dark with no ability to discern if taxpayers and seniors are getting the best deals. The Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act shines a light on these negotiations by requiring insurance companies to report when rebates, discounts, and price concessions happen and whether those savings are benefiting seniors and taxpayers or themselves. This legislation will require PBMs to report the totals of rebates, discounts, and price concessions they negotiate with Pharma and then publish the results, bringing much-needed transparency into the drug supply chain.

 

“NCPA appreciates Congress including the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021. This provision will bring further transparency to PBMs and the games they play with drug rebates, which can include steering patients to more expensive drugs to the detriment of small business community pharmacies,” said Karry K. La Violette, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Director of the Advocacy Center, National Community Pharmacists Association. “NCPA thanks the bill’s original sponsors, Reps. Jodey Arrington, Abigail Spanberger, and Brendan Boyle, for their leadership in addressing this issue and securing its inclusion in this omnibus package.”

 

"Real time benefit tools allow patients to know what lower cost prescription drug options are available before they get prescribed and dispensed. This is sorely needed right now. We commend Congressman Arrington for his tireless work to add this provision to the coronavirus package," said Joel White, President of the Council For Affordable Health Coverage.

 

"Giving access to prescription drug benefit information in real-time, at the point of care is an important step for both providers and patients in the ongoing fight to reduce burdens and costs in our healthcare system. HIA applauds Representative Arrington for his successful effort to add this to the new law," said Brett Meeks, VP of Health Innovation Alliance.

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