Ciresi supports prescription drug affordability, health care legislation

Skyrocketing health care costs endanger residents

State Rep. Joe Ciresi announced his support for legislation that would protect all Pennsylvanians from skyrocketing health care costs. Joining with his colleagues, health care advocates and citizens at a Capitol news conference Monday, Ciresi also highlighted the unsustainable growth in prescription drug prices and pushed for legislation to make prescription drugs more affordable. 

“Unfortunately, in recent years residents around the state and members of our community – including my own family -- have found it more and more difficult to afford essential health care,” Ciresi said.  

“Residents have lost coverage for pre-existing conditions – including pregnancy, diabetes, breast cancer and high blood pressure. Residents in need of readily available, life-saving medication like insulin and EpiPens have watched in disbelief as the price tag for these items experienced a steep increase. This is a personal issue for me, in that my wife is a diabetic and we have experienced financial distress because of the skyrocketing cost of insulin. I’ve supported these bills because this is what state government should be doing: These bills would save lives and allow residents to avoid having to choose between going into debt – and possible bankruptcy – or pursuing the health care they need.”

One-in-two Pennsylvanians struggles to afford health care -- and with continued federal inaction -- state House Democrats unveiled bills this week that would have life-saving implications around the state.

When people struggle with health care costs, data shows that they make health care decisions based on what’s in their wallets instead of their doctors’ recommendations. A 2019 survey by the Pennsylvania Health Access Network showed that Pennsylvania families have been forced to take actions that jeopardize their health, such as delaying care (29%), avoiding getting care altogether (21%), skipping a test or treatment (24%), failing to fill a prescription (19%), or cutting pills in half or skipping doses (17%).

Ciresi has co-sponsored the following legislation to protect all Pennsylvanians:

  • House Bill 2212 (Rep. Dan Frankel): Inspired in part by a Pennsylvania woman’s ordeal in securing affordable insulin for her partner -- an ordeal that involved resorting to black market purchases and the kindness of friends overseas -- and recent news events of profiteers charging exorbitant prices for life-saving medicines, the lawmakers’ bill would set limits that lower what Pennsylvanians pay for medically necessary drugs.
  • House Bill 1873 (Rep. Jeanne McNeill, Rep. Michael Zabel): Would set a mandatory price cap on the monthly cost of insulin for patients at $100 a month and urge the attorney general to investigate the skyrocketing price of insulin, which averaged $450 a month out-of-pocket in 2016 and exceeds $1,000 a month for some individuals.
  • House Bill 471 (Rep. Peter Schweyer): Would prohibit health insurers from denying or excluding coverage based on a pre-existing condition. 
  • House Bill 469 (Rep. Tony DeLuca): Would ensure essential health benefits for state residents.
  • House Bill 2225 (Rep. Stephen McCarter, Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski): Would direct the Department of Health to study and design a prescription drug importation program to provide savings and pending federal action. This would allow for the efficient implementation of a well-researched program in the event of approval by federal officials; Florida estimated that its drug importation program would save consumers over $150 million on prescription drugs annually.
  • House Resolution 187 (Pashinski) – Would direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study on prescription drug pricing and deliver its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.