Putting Consumers First
We’re putting consumers first – fighting to lower health care, prescription drug and energy bills. We want to ensure all Americans have access to affordable and quality health care, safe drinking water, high-speed internet and a cleaner environment.
- Making health care more affordable and reversing sabotage of health care system: On June 29, 2020, the House passed H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, by a roll call vote of 234-179. House Democrats have continued to fight to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for the future against the sabotage of the Trump Administration. This bill makes health care more affordable, expands access to health care, protects people with pre-existing conditions and reverses the Administration’s ongoing sabotage of the ACA. We also passed through Full Committee and the Health Subcommittee in April 2019 six bills. Five of the six bills have now passed the full House. One bill H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, was passed on May 9, 2019, and four other bills were passed as part of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act on May 16, 2019.
- Making prescription drugs more affordable: The House passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, with bipartisan support in December 2019 after it had advanced through the Full Committee earlier in the year. The historic legislation empowers the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs, and prevents years of unfair price hikes above inflation across thousands of drugs in Medicare. It also invests savings into the most transformative improvements to Medicare since the program’s creation – seniors will have access to vision, hearing and dental coverage for the first time.
- The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed six bills that will help reduce the cost of prescription drugs by removing barriers that delay more affordable generics from coming to market. In 2019, the House passed five of these bills on the House floor – two of them passed on May 8 and three of them passed as part of H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act on May 16. The Health Subcommittee also passed legislation to increase transparency around the high-cost of prescription drugs.
- Urging Trump Administration to create national testing and vaccine plans to combat the COVID-19 pandemic: Committee leaders sent multiple oversight letters to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and HHS Secretary Azar raising serious concerns that the Administration refuses to establish a national testing and vaccine plan. Learn more about the Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.
- Protecting Americans from unfair price gouging during COVID-19 pandemic: On May 12, 2020, the House passed The Heroes Act, which included a provision from the Committee that would protect Americans from price gougers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation provides the Federal Trade Commission and State attorneys general the authority to seek civil penalties from individuals and companies engaging in price gouging of goods and services during the pandemic. Learn more about the Committee’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.
- Exposing the impact of the Republican ACA lawsuit on the American health care system: The Health Subcommittee held a hearing on the impacts of the Texas v. United States lawsuit if it were successful, which would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health care and eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions. Joined multiple House Committee leaders in sending letters to Trump Administration officials seeking justification for their decision to refuse to defend the ACA in court.
- Taking the “surprise” out of surprise medical bills: The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed H.R. 3630, the No Surprises Act, bipartisan legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills. The legislation would hold patients harmless in situations where, through no fault of their own, they receive a surprise bill from an out-of-network health care provider. In December 2019, bipartisan Committee leaders included the surprise billing proposal in a larger bipartisan, bicameral health care package, which is now awaiting a Floor vote.
- Stopping the youth tobacco epidemic: The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed H.R. 2339, the Reversing Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, comprehensive legislation to address the youth tobacco epidemic. The legislation addresses the sharp rise in use of tobacco products among young people by raising the minimum purchase age, prohibiting flavors in all tobacco products, banning certain non-face-to-face sales, and protecting kids from predatory marketing. The bill then passed the House on February 28, 2020, by a roll call vote of 213-195.
- Improving cosmetics safety: The Health Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on two bills that would update the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate cosmetic and personal care products. Congress has not updated FDA’s authority to regulate the multi-billion-dollar cosmetic industry in more than 80 years.
- Strengthening Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories: The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed legislation with unanimous support to avert the looming fiscal cliff for Medicaid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories. The legislation would provide four years of increased Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories and increase the federal medical assistance percentage. The Health Subcommittee also held a hearing on Medicaid funding in the U.S. Territories where members heard firsthand about the unique funding challenges the Territories face and the possible solutions for each of the programs.
- Improving maternal health care: The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed two bills to improve quality and access to maternal health care. The bipartisan bills expand access to care for rural moms, education health professionals on preventing discrimination and bias in care, and allow states to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms for up to 12 months postpartum.
- Protecting consumers’ privacy and data security: Released a Government Accountability Report (GAO) report recommending that Congress develop comprehensive internet data privacy legislation to enhance consumer protections while maintaining flexibility to address a rapidly evolving Internet. Then the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held its first privacy hearing this Congress as the Committee begins the process of developing comprehensive privacy and data security legislation. Committee staff are working on a bipartisan basis to develop comprehensive privacy and data security legislation.
- Exploring whether consumers are adequately protected online: Over the last few years, bad actors, both foreign and domestic, have increasingly abused the Internet to peddle extremism, disinformation, and hatred that divides our nation. On October 16, 2019, a joint subcommittee hearing explored whether online companies are appropriately using the tools they have – including protections Congress granted in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – to foster a healthier internet.
- Stopping the onslaught of annoying robocalls: Passed through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee and Full Committee the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which was then passed by the House on July 24, 2019, by a vote of 429-3. In December 2019, the House passed S. 151, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, which was a bipartisan, bicameral agreement, by a vote of 417-3. The bill ensures every call Americans get will be verified by Caller ID and that consumers can block calls they don’t want, and more. The President signed the legislation into law on December 30, 2019.
- Protecting consumers from PFAS contamination and exposure: Passed legislation to address the problem of PFAS chemicals contaminating our air, water and soil. PFAS – or “forever chemicals” – are toxic, with studies showing increased cancers, immune impacts and effects on growth, development and fertility. The Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee passed 13 PFAS bills that would enact a protective drinking water standard, ensure contaminated sites are cleaned up, establish a new grant program to filter the chemicals out of Americans’ drinking water, and more. The bills were combined into the PFAS Action Act of 2019, which passed the Full Committee and the House on January 10, 2020, by a vote of 247-159.
- Holding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) accountable for its inability to fulfill its mission of protecting consumers from dangerous products: Passed through the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee and Full Committee six bills to protect American families from dangerous consumer products. The six bills will save countless lives and ensure the Consumer Product Safety Commission acts quickly to enforce the law and educate consumers about these common household dangers. On September 17, 2019, the House passed three of these bills by voice vote. The House then passed the other three bills on December 16, 2019.
- Exploring ways to protect drivers and their families from driving dangers: Held three hearings in the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee to protect people from driving dangers. The first hearing, on May 23, 2019, on summer driving dangers, then a legislative hearing on July 24 on bills to make cars in America safer, and a third hearing on autonomous vehicles on February 11, 2020. Motor vehicle death rates have increased since 2014, and technologies exist that will vastly improve motor vehicle safety, but we must find ways to get them in the hands of all drivers.
- Gun Violence and Public Health: The Health Subcommittee held a field hearing in Chicago, Illinois, to learn more about the gun violence crisis and the need for our public health agencies to conduct research into this ongoing epidemic. The hearing brought together community members, care providers and policy experts for a community-centered discussion on intervention tactics and responses.
- Extending critical public health programs: The Health Subcommittee and Full Committee passed bipartisan legislation to extend funding for vital public health programs, including Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs. A proposal to extend these programs for five years was included in a bipartisan, bicameral health care package announced in December 2019, which is awaiting a Floor vote.
- Investigating potential unfair and deceptive practices in live event ticket industry: In February 2020, the Committee held an oversight hearing that examined several concerning trends that disadvantage consumers, including high, hidden fees, speculative tickets that harm unknowing customers, and “white label” websites that may use practices that deceive consumers. This Committee is also consudcting a bipartisan investigation into practices in the live event ticketing industry.
- Reauthorizing media laws to protect consumers: Passed through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee and Full Committee H.R. 5035, the bipartisan Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019. The bill permanently reauthorizes the good faith provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR) Act and requires cable and satellite TV companies to disclose how much they will charge for their video services, including any extra fees. The legislation passed the House by voice vote in December 2019, and was included in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations package that passed the House.
- Protecting consumers from fraud and scams: On November 17, 2020, the House passed three bills by voice vote that establish critical new tools in the fight against fraud – especially fraud aimed at seniors and other targeted groups – and will also ensure the American public is regularly updated on the effects of COVID-19 on home safety and the travel industry. Together, these three bipartisan bills will significantly improve our ability to protect Americans from some of the troubling impacts of this pandemic.
- Condemning Trump Administration’s attempt to block grant Medicaid: The House passed H.Res.826, which expresses disapproval of the Trump administration's harmful actions towards Medicaid. One in five Americans have access to health care through Medicaid. Block grants limit the amount of federal dollars states receive, forcing them to cut benefits, cut payments to doctors and tighten eligibility standards. The Administration’s proposal is also illegal. Converting Medicaid to a block grant would require an act of Congress.
- Improving access to care and expanding coverage: The Full Committee favorably reported 17 health bills to the House floor. These bills will strengthen mental health parity and provide mental health support to first responders, improve care, enhance transparency and operability of the Strategic National Stockpile and improve the safety of America’s food, drugs and medical devices.
- Combatting the opioid epidemic and improving health care transparency: The House passed by voice vote, on November 17, 2020, 10 bills that included legislation to support new research into health disparities, improvements to food and drug labeling, and a new grant program for trauma centers that intervene in cyclical violence. The House also continued its bipartisan work to combat the opioid epidemic by providing grants to states and tribal organizations to support substance use disorder treatment and prevention, as well as new tools and authorities to prevent the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
Preserving phone numbers in emergencies: On September 29, 2020, the House passed, by voice vote, H.R. 1289, the “Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies Act of 2019,” that would provide some stability for consumers left homeless by natural disasters. Families who lose their homes in a natural disaster should not have to worry about their phone company giving their phone numbers away to someone else.
- Investigating health and dental insurance companies’ business practices: Following reports that many of the companies are recording record profit margins during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee sent letters to nine health and dental insurance companies seeking information on their policies and practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.