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Health Care

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BROWN of Massachusetts. Mr. President, I rise today to continue to urge my colleagues for quick passage of my legislation that would restore access to life-saving medicines for children's hospitals.

As my colleagues are aware, I introduced independent legislation in September that would protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us--our Nation's children--by immediately restoring access and ensuring children's hospitals across the country are able to purchase orphan drugs at a discount.

Children's hospitals lost access to these medicines when Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

That wasn't right.

And so my legislation sought to fix it and restore access to these life-saving medicines for children's hospitals. Without this fix, children's hospitals across the country will be faced with higher drug costs. I introduced this legislation with the support of several of my Republican colleagues. And I know that my Democratic colleagues support the intent of my legislation too.

Unfortunately, and despite passage in the House, the Senate has not passed legislation to correct this flaw in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But I am hopeful that the Senate will take action soon. I continue to work with my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee and with Senate leadership to ensure that the Senate acts swiftly to correct this error in the Federal health care reform bill.

As my colleagues are aware, access to orphan drugs are critically important to children, many of whom, if they are ill, suffer from rare diseases or conditions. Orphan drugs, by definition, are designed and developed to help and treat diseases or conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people, many of whom are children. On a daily basis, the Children's Hospital of Boston uses most of the 347 medicines that are designated orphan drugs.

I will say again that my legislation has the support of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. And I have this support because fixing this provision and restoring access to life-saving medicines is the right thing to do.

My legislation restores and protects the ability for children's hospitals to access those outpatient medicines through the 340B drug discount program authorized in the Public Health Services Act. Access to this program and the corresponding discount saves the Children's Hospital of Boston nearly $3 million annually, but more importantly, Children's Hospital of Boston is able to save lives as a result. Hospitals and doctors at children's hospitals are able to access life-saving medicines, children live better lives, and families are given peace of mind.

Passing my bill quickly is the right thing to do and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly to enact my legislation to ensure that children's hospitals can once again receive discounted pricing on these life-saving medicines.

There is no cause for delay. The House has passed this restorative language twice already. The Senate needs to do the same. And we should do so before the end of this year.

I believe quick passage is possible--quick passage should be possible--because of the support and efforts that I have seen demonstrated by my fellow Senators.

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