Press Release

Biggest health care bill this year passes U.S. House

U.S. Rep Castor: “Since the first day of the 116th Congress, I have led my Democratic colleagues in standing up for affordable health care and neighbors with preexisting conditions – and in undoing the damage caused by the GOP”

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Washington, May 17, 2019 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) and House Democrats are continuing their work For The People by voting to pass H.R 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, a major piece of legislation that addresses the top concerns of the American people – defending affordable health care and protections for our neighbors with preexisting conditions while also lowering prescription drug prices. The package included three Castor-led bills to lower health care costs and protect families.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) and House Democrats are continuing their work For The People by voting to pass H.R 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, a major piece of legislation that addresses the top concerns of the American people – defending affordable health care and protections for our neighbors with preexisting conditions while also lowering prescription drug prices.  The package included three Castor-led bills to lower health care costs and protect families.

“Since the first day of the 116th Congress, I have led my Democratic colleagues in standing up for affordable health care and neighbors with preexisting conditions -- and in undoing the damage caused by the GOP.  This week we passed the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, which combined those efforts with lowering prescription drug costs,” said U.S. Rep. Castor.

The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act packages together several issues championed by U.S. Rep. Castor.  The bill expands affordable health care and protects those with preexisting conditions and includes measures to help lower-priced generic drugs get to market faster, which drives down the cost of prescription drug costs.  U.S. Rep. Castor recently questioned drug manufacturers on tactics they deploy to keep dug prices high for Americans, including pay-to-delay agreements. 

Specifically, the measures authored by U.S. Rep. Castor included in the package to directly help her neighbors in Tampa Bay: halting the spread of junk health plans; and reversing the Trump administration’s cynical decision to slash resources for our community based Navigators that ensure working families and seniors have the information they need to make good decisions.

U.S. Rep. Castor was concerned about junk health plans and their effect on working families, but they are also a threat to our senior neighbors.  As Nancy A. LeaMond, Executive Vice President of AARP states, “this bill, includes needed legislation to roll back recent Administration rules and guidance, such as the short-term plan rule, that jeopardize the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) critical consumer protections.  We have repeatedly raised concern about the expansion of short-term plans that lack consumer protections and would once again allow insurance companies to charge much more due to age or a preexisting conditions.  At least 40 percent of individuals between the ages of 50-64 have what could be characterized by an insurance carrier as a preexisting condition.”

In Florida, over 1.7 million people – more than any other state – signed up for a marketplace policy last year, often with the help of a Navigator.  And, U.S. Rep. Castor’s issue included in the bill is especially impactful in her home town of Tampa – the University of South Florida has consistently won the largest Navigator grants in the country for their outstanding work.

“Every day Navigators have the opportunity to witness the life-altering impact of what attaining appropriate and affordable coverage means to the lives of Floridians,” said Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids and Families after a recent meeting with U.S. Rep. Castor.  “For many consumers, enrollment simply would not be possible without the help of these individuals.  They serve as the first point of contact for many of the consumers seeking help.”

“While we passed some issues that have bipartisan agreement in this bill, more often than not these days – especially with the election of Trump – Republicans have made it their mission to sabotage the affordability and availability of health care for folks with preexisting conditions, working families and small businesses.  By stopping the spread of junk health plans, supporting our health care Navigators and addressing the high cost of prescription drugs – one of my bedrock issues that affects so many in Tampa Bay – House Democrats are showing their commitment to putting Americans first,” U.S. Rep. Castor concluded.

U.S. Rep. Castor has worked tirelessly to safeguard Americans’ health in response to the continued sabotage of affordable, quality health care and protections for Americans with preexisting conditions by President Trump and Republicans in Congress.  U.S. Rep. Castor serves on the powerful U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has oversight of health care policy, and she has authored legislation that halts the Trump administration’s attack on the ACA.

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