April 12, 2018

Two Luján Bills Subject of Hearing by Energy and Commerce Committee

Two legislative proposals authored by Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) were today the subject of a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The first of the two bills, H.R. 4841, the Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act, is a bipartisan measure designed to improve access to needed medications for Medicare beneficiaries. The bill was introduced by Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Luján earlier this year.

Luján’s second measure aims to curb the practice of “pharmacy shopping” in which high-volume opioid users solicit multiple pharmacies under false pretenses in order to obtain prescription opioids to abuse, sell, or distribute unlawfully. This proposal strengthens and tightens language already in law, making it much more difficult to skirt prohibitions against pharmacy shopping.

Luján said he is pleased that the bills are moving steadily through the legislative process because many Medicare beneficiaries are seeing long delays in approvals for their prescription medications and incidents of pharmacy shopping are on the rise.

“Too often the prescription authorization process for those enrolled in Medicare is lengthy, confusing, and frustrating. The purpose of our first bill is to streamline the process, eliminate frustrating delays, and allow seniors to get the prescriptions they need with a minimum of fuss. That’s good for patients and ultimately good for ensuring the Medicare system operates as cost efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Luján. 

“We must get a better handle on the opioid crisis, and that means not only providing resources for treatment and prevention efforts, it also means cracking down on bad actors,” said Luján. “By strengthening existing law, it will make it much more difficult for those trying to abuse the system and prevent more opioids from getting into the wrong hands.”