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Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on Drug Shortages

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome back Congressman Jimmy Gomez to the Committee. It’s good to have you back on the most storied dais in Congress, fighting for America’s workers and their families.

Today’s hearing comes on the heels of major milestones in health care thanks to the work of Democrats. More Americans have health insurance today than ever before. Over 21 million signed up during the latest open enrollment, with 4 out of 5 people being able to access a high-quality plan for less than $10 a month.

This Committee is responsible for that.

Our historic Inflation Reduction Act is starting to take hold, saving the American people money, and delivering more breathing room. Last week, Medicare made its first fair price offers on ten of the most common, costly drugs used by Americans.

We are talking about delivering savings of up to 25 percent. And yet, Republicans are still trying to block this historic law, siding with Big Pharma, and keeping costs high for our nation’s seniors.

Our progress is important, but our work is far from finished. We also must address access issues that come from drug shortages—a phenomenon that, like high drug prices, has become all too common.

Quality challenges in the manufacturing of generic drugs have led to shortages, disrupting patient care and creating a ripple effect that intensifies the challenges that vulnerable groups already face.

Meanwhile, supply chain dynamics can worsen shortages through short-term contracting practices with exclusively with one manufacturer, instead of engaging with many who could fill gaps in case of a challenge, or by squeezing manufacturers in a race to the bottom.

The path forward is clear—Congress must act in a multi-faceted way to reward quality, reliable manufacturing, and incentivize improvements to the process. President Biden has already taken unprecedented steps to combat these shortages by bolstering authorities under the Defense Production Act and investing in the domestic production of key materials.

While supply chain issues and shortages are extremely troubling, it’s only half the issue. This Committee must also be concerned about the millions of Americans who can’t access their life-saving prescription drugs because of costs.

No Republicans joined us when we gave Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices for the first time in our nation’s history.

At a time when the American people are forced to pay 2 to 3 times more for their prescription drugs than their counterparts across the world, not a single one of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle could find it in themselves to act and side with the people.

Luckily, we didn’t need their votes. We took action to put an end to Big Pharma’s price gouging, capped out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 and insulin at $35 per month for seniors.

Our work brings people peace of mind, it’s fundamentally changing health care in America, all while giving families much deserved breathing room with lower drug prices.

There’s certainly more to do, and if our Republican colleagues are serious on delivering solutions, we are ready and willing to act.

With that, I yield back.

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