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Providing Relief & Protecting Consumers

We’re providing relief to struggling American families during this severe economic downturn by putting consumers first.  The Committee is fighting to make health care, prescription drug, and utility bills more affordable.  We want to ensure all Americans have access to affordable and quality health care, safe drinking water, high-speed internet, and a cleaner environment. 

 

  • President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law that includes historic health care provisions championed by Committee Democrats that lowers prescription drug costs and makes health care more affordable for millions of Americans:  The Inflation Reduction Act became law on August 16, 2022, and is one of the most significant pieces of health care legislation in over a decade.  The bill passed the House on August 12, 2022.  The Inflation Reduction Act:
    • Reins in the soaring cost of prescription drugs and caps out-of-pocket costs for millions of seniors by empowering Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs and imposing an inflation rebate on pharmaceutical manufacturers that unfairly raise prices on consumers.  The landmark law also caps seniors’ out-of-pocket costs on Medicare Part D prescription drugs at $2,000 annually and caps the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month; and
    • Makes health care more affordable for millions of Americans by extending through 2025 Affordable Care Act (ACA) affordability assistance first included in the American Rescue Plan last year.

 

  • The Inflation Reduction Act also includes the single largest investment in climate action in American history:  The legislation will lower energy costs for American families by about $1,800 a year, and makes unparalleled investments in climate, clean energy, and environmental justice that put us on track to meet our aggressive climate goals.

 

  • House Democrats have passed legislation to restore the right to an abortion nationwide, to ensure states cannot restrict travel across state lines to obtain a lawful abortion, and establish a right to contraception:  Since the Republican-controlled Supreme Court’s dangerous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, House Democrats have acted to protect the right to an abortion.  In July 2022, House Democrats passed H.R. 8296, the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 8297, the Ensuring Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, and H.R. 8373, the Right to Contraception Act.

 

  • Expanded access to affordable health care coverage during the pandemic: The American Rescue Plan was the largest expansion of health care coverage in more than a decade. Millions of Americans will gain coverage and see their monthly insurance premiums go down. It includes a new incentive for states to expand Medicaid by temporarily increasing the federal medical assistance percentage by five percentage points. 

 

  • The House-passed Build Back Better Act will make health care more affordable, while also expanding access and improving public health infrastructure:  The legislation:
    • Builds on the historic coverage gains and lower health care costs for American families through the ACA by extending health care premium tax credits and by investing in programs that reduce health care premiums and deductibles for all Americans including through a reinsurance program;
    • Makes prescription drugs more affordable by giving Medicare the ability to negotiate lower drug prices, capping out-of-pocket costs on drug spending in Medicare at $2,000, penalizing Big Pharma companies that unfairly raise prices, and ensuring that Americans don’t pay more than $35 per month for insulin;
    • Closes the Medicaid coverage gap, by expanding the ACA’s premium tax credits to below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and provides enhanced cost-sharing assistance.  Closing this coverage gap will allow 1.7 million uninsured Americans to gain access to coverage;
    • Expands Medicare to cover comprehensive hearing for seniors;
    • Invests $150 billion to expand access to quality home-based services and care for millions of older adults and people with disabilities;
    • Improves maternal health outcomes for vulnerable populations by ensuring that all pregnant women on Medicaid will keep their health insurance for the critical first year postpartum, while also making significant public health investments to reduce inequities in maternal health outcomes and strengthen the maternal health workforce;
    • Invests $9.5 billion in our public health infrastructure and workforce, including investments to support the construction and modernization of community health centers; and
    • Provides $10 billion in targeted investments for pandemic preparedness so our nation will be able to address any future public health emergencies.

 

  • The House-passed Build Back Better Act will also protect consumers and address supply chain issues:  The legislation provides the Federal Trade Commission with more resources to better protect consumers from privacy and data abuses.  It also provides the Department of Commerce with investments to monitor and identify critical manufacturing supply chain vulnerabilities that imperil our national security and economic vitality and support domestic companies and other domestic entities in closing those vulnerabilities.

 

  • Continued to build on the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand health coverage and lower costs: The Health Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on 18 bills to build on the progress made in the American Rescue Plan by expanding access to quality, affordable health care for the people. 

 

 

  • Re-introduced and held a hearing on historic prescription drug price negotiation legislation: H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, was re-introduced in April 2021.  H.R. 3 would empower the federal government to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, put an end to Americans paying three or four times more for medicine than people in other countries, reverse years of unfair price hikes, and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year.  The Health Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on this and other legislation to lower the cost on prescription drugs on May 4, 2021.

 

 

 

  • Strengthening our nation’s privacy and data security protections:  Bipartisan Committee leaders introduced a bipartisan, bicameral comprehensive data privacy proposal that will  put people back in control of their data.  The Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee marked up  H.R. 8152, the "American Data Privacy and Protection Act," on June 23, 2022, after holding a legislative hearing on the bill on June 14, 2022.  The full Committee marked up the legislation on July 20, 2022. 

 

  • Passed legislation to fund and enhance the Food and Drug Administration:  On June 8, 2022, the House passed the Food and Drug Amendments of 2022 (FDA22), which reauthorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee programs for prescription drugs, generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices.  The bill will provide FDA with the funding it needs to carry out its mission of ensuring the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs and medical devices.  The legislation will also facilitate the development of new medical products to treat rare diseases, help reduce the cost of prescription drugs by bringing more affordable generics to market sooner, and make sure clinical trials reflect the diversity of the patient population.  Prior to passing the House, the legislation was marked up by the Health Subcommittee and then the full Committee, where it is was supported by a unanimous vote of 55-0.

 

  • Helped families with their utility bills so they can keep the lights on, the heat working, and the water running: The American Rescue Plan provides $5 billion to those most in need to pay their utility bills at a time when so many Americans are spending unprecedented amounts of time at home.  On March 21, 2022, Committee leaders wrote to six utility companies demanding answers for high customer shutoff rates during the COVID-19 pandemic after utilities had made assurances at the start of the pandemic, both to the public and to the Committee, that a federal mandatory shutoff moratorium was not necessary because a patchwork of state and local moratoriums had already begun to take shape and was sufficient to address shutoff concerns. 

 

  • Expanded internet connectivity to help students and teachers without home internet access so that we can close the homework gap: The American Rescue Plan provides $7.1 billion for schools and libraries to purchase the technology and devices that students, teachers, and staff need for internet connectivity. 

 

 

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program created by Congress:  This program was authored and championed by Committee leaders and was passed as part of the final omnibus appropriations bill in December 2020.  The EBB Program will provide struggling families a discount of $50, or $75 on tribal lands, off the monthly cost of home internet service, and may also provide an additional subsidy for a computer.

 

  • Working to ensure child safety online: The Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing examining how to protect children in an increasingly digital age. Screen time for children has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

  • Protecting Americans who were taken advantage of by fraudsters and scammers:  In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may no longer use its longstanding authority to get Americans their money back from fraudsters and scammers.  The Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held a legislative hearing, a Subcommittee markup, and a full Committee markup on legislation that would restore the FTC’s longstanding authorities to provide redress to consumers who have been scammed.  The legislation passed the House on July 20, 2021, by a vote of 221-205.

  • Passed bipartisan legislation to protect consumers:  On April 15, 2021, the House passed five bipartisan bills to help the FTC protect senior and other targeted groups against predatory fraud and scams.  These bills also improved public education and provided grants to educate and equip Americans with the ability to combat the dangers of carbon monoxide.  The House also passed four consumer protection bills on June 23, 2021, that take a strong step toward protecting American families by keeping dangerous products off the market and studying emerging threats to save lives.  Committee leaders were able to include many of these provisions, like cracking down on consumer scams targeting older adults and preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, in the omnibus that the House passed on March 9, 2022.  

 

  • Addressing the mental health and substance use disorder epidemic:  The Committee has worked to address these dual crises affecting millions of Americans.  On May 13, 2021, the House passed 13 bills that would improve mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and suicide prevention.  Then on June 22, 2022, the House passed, H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022.  This bipartisan bill will bolster critical prevention, care, treatment, and support programs for Americans of all ages—especially children, underserved communities, and those in greatest need.  The bipartisan legislation was favorably reported out of the Committee on May 18, 2022.

 

  • Passed bipartisan health care bills to improve the health and well-being of the American people:  On April 15, 2021, the House passed eight bills that would help patients access affordable medications, fund research into health disparities, and prevent misconduct and diversion of controlled substances.  Additionally, on May 19, 2021, the House passed H.R. 1629, the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act, that would encourage research and discovery of new therapies to treat and cure rare diseases, while also ensuring that brand manufacturers do not use the program to stifle generic competition from coming to market.  On June 23, 2021, the House passed two bills that would fund lifesaving programs to screen newborns for certain diseases and make much-needed improvements to the collection and surveillance of public health data in tribal communities.

 

  • Working to accelerate biomedical innovation to conquer deadly diseases and healthier patient outcomes:  On June 22, 2022, the House passed  H.R. 5585, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health Act, to establish ARPA-H, an independent agency to accelerate biomedical innovation.  ARPA-H has incredible potential to revolutionize medicine by transforming how we detect, treat, and cure the deadliest diseases affecting Americans. Before passing the House, the bill had been favorably reported out of the Committee on May 18, 2022.

 

  • Protecting consumers from fuel costs price gouging:  The House passed H.R. 7688, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, by a vote of 217-207.  This bill would protect consumers at the pump and put an end to price gouging, penalize market manipulators, and bring more transparency to the secretive oil and gas market.  It also includes provisions that would improve market transparency and competition, which is so important since a large portion of the oil and gas pricing is done in the dark.

 

  • Working to lower fuel costs for Americans:  The House passed H.R. 7606, the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which included a provision to combat recent fuel price hikes caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by allowing for the voluntary, year-round sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E-15 or Unleaded 88 – a cleaner, cheaper fuel option that costs on average about 40 cents less per gallon and emits less carbon pollution than regular gas.  The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee also held a hearing on April 6, 2022, with six oil company executives.  Committee members questioned the executives on their companies’ roles in choosing to keep production low so that their own profits stay high.

 

  • Ensuring Americans have access to safe and affordable drinking water:  The Committee advanced three drinking water protection bills with a markup in the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee on June 16, 2021, and a full Committee markup on June 23, 2021.  Following the Committee markup, two of these provisions were included in H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 221-201 on July 1, 2021.  The drinking water provisions will safeguard Americans’ right to safe, affordable drinking water and protect them from dangerous PFAS chemicals, while also revitalizing our economy and creating new jobs.