Reps. Lee, Hurd, Lead Bipartisan Letter Opposing Secretary Azar’s Proposed CMS Medicare Pt. D Rule

Washington, D.C. – Today, 73 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Will Hurd, sent a bipartisan letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar asking him to withdraw a proposal that would modify the Medicare Part D program protections afforded to six classes of drugs, known as the “six protected classes,” and that would push access to critical medicines out of reach for many people living with HIV. 

The proposed change would require prior authorizations or step therapy requirements and could have devasting health outcomes for those receiving treatment for HIV and other conditions that are under the additional 5 protected classes. The change could also have reverberating effects for patients suffering from multiple conditions and exacerbate health disparities in low-income and minority communities. In response, more than 140 patient advocacy groups have opposed CMS’s proposal, which would make it harder for Medicare Part D enrollees to access and maintain treatment that their doctors have prescribed.

“While we can all agree that high prescription drug pricing must be addressed, the changes proposed by The Trump Administration put millions of lives on the line,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This rule would give insurance companies extraordinary power over patients’ access to life-saving HIV medicines. It would have an especially devastating impact on communities of color and low-income communities, who experience higher rates of HIV. Access to these treatments is literally a matter of life and death – we cannot abandon our nation’s most vulnerable when they need us the most.”

“The Medicare Part D ‘Protected Classes’ rule has helped ensure patient access to critical drugs and therapies combatting serious illnesses such as HIV, cancer and mental health conditions,” said U.S. Representative Will Hurd (TX-23). “I am proud to join Rep. Lee to send a strong bipartisan message that we need to protect access to quality care for patients in South and West Texas and across the nation.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.