Sen. Isakson Applauds Committee Passage of Legislation to Lower Health Care Costs

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, voted to advance legislation to deliver better health care to Americans at lower cost.
The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019, introduced by committee chairman U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and the ranking Democrat on the committee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., was approved 20-3 by the committee and now advances to the full Senate for a vote.
“I recognize the frustrations many Americans have with the current cost and quality of health care,” said Isakson. “This legislation represents months of hard work by this committee to find solutions that will lower health care costs by preventing Americans from receiving a surprise bill for unexpected health care costs, increasing transparency so they know what they are paying for ahead of time, and lowering the costs of prescription drugs through increased competition. I am thrilled the committee passed this critical legislation to help ensure Georgians will receive better care at a lower cost. I applaud the efforts of Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray for their hard work in getting us to this point.”
The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 would reduce health care costs and improve care for Americans by addressing three areas that contribute to higher health care costs. The legislation would end surprise billing by health care providers that often leave patients on the hook for large and unanticipated costs. It would create more transparency so patients know exactly what they are paying for ahead of time. Finally, the legislation would address high prescription drug costs by increasing competition to help bring more lower cost generic and biosimilar drugs to patients.
Amid concerns that many hospitals and physicians have raised about the way the legislation addresses surprise billing, Isakson and other senators received a commitment from Chairman Alexander to continue working to address those concerns and find a solution that best fits the needs of patients and providers before the legislation is voted on by the full Senate.
The legislation also includes a bill introduced by Isakson to improve the nation’s public health data systems to ensure high quality, timely and accurate information sharing and protect the public from health threats that may include viruses, prescription drug abuse and other potentially preventable health problems.
During the committee vote, Isakson offered an amendment that was ultimately withdrawn to send a message to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it needs to act to help Americans better understand a recent report regarding the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen products available in the United States. Isakson also continued to urge speedier access to innovative sunscreen products already available in many other countries, stating that we may need to consider allowing the import of sunscreens from other countries to ensure Americas have access to products that better protect their skin. Isakson, Alexander, and U.S. Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C., who cosponsored Isakson’s amendment, recently wrote to FDA seeking answers about the safety of sunscreen products.
Since last Congress, the Senate health committee has held five hearings on ways to reduce health care costs and four hearings on the cost of prescription drugs. In May, Alexander and Murray released a draft of this legislation for discussion, receiving more than 400 comments. The Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 is composed of more than four dozen specific provisions from 65 Republican and Democrat senators.