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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. 

 

  • 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 Affordable Care Act (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.

 

 

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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:  Earlier this year, 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 Consumer Protection and Commerce 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 advanced out of the full Committee on June 10, 2021.

  • 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.  

 

  • Addressing the mental health and substance use disorder epidemic:  On April 14, the Health Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on legislation that would provide Americans the help, treatment, and care they need to recover from this difficult time during the pandemic.  Additionally, on May 13, 2021, the House passed 13 bills that would improve mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and suicide prevention. 

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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.