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Heinrich Cosponsors Legislation to Lower Costs, Improve Transparency for Working Families

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) cosponsored three bills to strengthen consumer protections for working families.  

“Costs are too high for many working families in New Mexico. From excessively high health care and prescription drug costs to the continuing weight of student loans, many families are still struggling to make ends meet,” said Heinrich. “I'm proud to support these bills to create more transparency around prices and help New Mexicans pay down their medical and student loan debts. New Mexicans who work hard deserve economic freedom, and I’m committed to helping make that a reality.” 

The Strengthening Consumer Protections and Medical Debt Transparency Act would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a publicly available database of annual reporting from hospitals and other health care facilities with information about whether they use debt collection agents, the process for assigning debt to a collection agent, and the number ofExtraordinary Collection Actions, as defined by the IRS, they have initiated. 

This legislation would also require that patients are made aware of any debt forgiveness or assistance that is available to them before they can be sent to collections. Additionally, the bill would prohibit health care entities or debt collection agencies from initiating the collection process until 180 days after an initial bill is sent and the debtor’s identity has been confirmed.  

If a health care entity or agent fails to comply with the provisions of this bill, they can be fined up to $1,000 or up to $2 million in the case of a class action lawsuit. 

The legislation is led by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). 

A one-page summary of the bill is here

The text of the bill is here.  

The Fair Accountability and Innovative Research Drug Pricing Act would require transparency from pharmaceutical corporations that increase drug prices. The legislation will, for the first time, give taxpayers additional information about how drug prices are initially determined and notice of price increases. 

Specifically, the bill requires drug manufacturers to notify HHS and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days before increasing the price of drugs that cost at least $100, by more than ten percent over one year or 25 percent over three years. For drugs that have a list price that is higher than median family income, or $70,784 in 2021, manufacturers will also be required to submit a transparency and justification report.  

These reports must include:  

  • Manufacturing, research, and development costs; 
  • Net profits attributable to the drug; and 
  • Marketing and advertising spending on the drug. 

The legislation is led by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). 

A one-page summary is here

The text of the bill is here.  

The Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights Act would ensure struggling student loan borrowers are treated fairly and understand the full range of repayment options and resources available to them. The legislation creates consistent servicing and disclosure standards across private and federal student loans and allows the Secretary of Education to adjust those standards for federal servicers through regulation to benefit federal student loan borrowers. 

More than 43 million Americans hold $1.6 trillion in cumulative student loan debt, preventing them from fully participating in our nation’s economy by reducing homeownership, jeopardizing retirement security, and limiting entrepreneurship. 

Specifically, the bill:  

  • Improves disclosures and outreach to borrowers when their loan is sold or transferred, the borrower is identified as at-risk of default or having trouble making payments, or the borrower is eligible for alternative repayment options or other benefits; 
  • Standardizes the application and the allocation of payments among multiple loans in a manner most beneficial to the borrower; 
  • Removes a borrower’s record of default from their credit history when they act to rectify their defaulted loan; 
  • Limits circumstances in which borrowers are subject to late fees and other negative consequences; and more.  

The legislation is led by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).  

The text of the bill is here