April 02, 2019

Wyden Cheers Congressional Passage of Bill to Improve Oregonians’ Health Care

Legislation includes funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment, clamps down on Big Pharma

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today welcomed the passage of  bipartisan legislation to improve the Medicaid program, including Wyden-backed provisions that fund community-based behavioral health programs and restrict the pharmaceutical industry’s exploitive tactics of taxpayer dollars.

The Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019, which passed the Senate today after passing through the House earlier this year, includes a number of key provisions that will improve the Medicaid program for Oregonians, including the extension of Excellence Demonstration Funding and the Right Rebate Act. The bill will now go to the president’s desk for signature.

“Today Congress stood up for the most vulnerable Americans who count on Medicaid for quality health care. Not only does this legislative package advance policies that help address the mental health and opioid crisis facing our state, it also holds Big Pharma accountable when they fleece taxpayers,” Wyden said. “This package takes action to prevent drug manufacturers from enriching themselves with bogus rebates. It’s also a step forward to ensure Oregonians in need of behavioral health treatment have access to high quality mental and substance use care and treatment they deserve.”

Excellence for Mental Health Demonstration funding invests federal dollars in Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which provide localized crisis and out-patient behavioral health services. Federal funding for CCBHCs was set to expire at the end of March, but this package extends funding through June 2019, when funding for other state demonstrations expires. Wyden is a cosponsor of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addition Treatment Act, which grant CCBHCs an additional two years of funding.

The Right Rebate Act, which Wyden introduced earlier this year as a stand-alone-bill, prevents drug makers from manipulating Medicaid to gouge taxpayers and increase profits by misclassifying their drugs as generic drugs when they are actually brand names. An HHS Inspector General report revealed this loophole cost state and federal Medicaid programs $1 billion between 2012 and 2016. Wyden’s bill gives the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to reclassify a drug, recoup rebates, and go after drug manufacturers when they are suspected of purposely misclassifying branded products as generics.

The legislative package also includes provisions to provide pediatric health homes to children with medically complex conditions, protect spouses of individuals receiving long-term services and supports at home or in the community from going into poverty, and additional funding for the Money Follows the Person grant program.