April Newsletter

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to share with you updates from the past month.

Sincerely,

Elijah E. Cummings
Member of Congress 

Report on the Prices of Diabetes Drugs

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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings speaking at a press conference in Catonsville, MD to release a Committee Staff Report on the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.

For people with diabetes, access to their medications is a matter of life and death. In spite of this, drug companies have repeatedly increased the price of their diabetes drugs, including insulin, over the past twenty years. Tragically, these high prices have led many individuals to ration or stop taking their medications.

That is why earlier this month at a press conference in Catonsville, I released a Committee Staff Report on the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.

The report found that:

  • There are approximately 42,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • In Maryland’s 7th District, the 50 most popular brand-name diabetes medications cost the Medicare program and beneficiaries nearly $21 million in 2016.
  • For seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in Maryland’s 7th District, the cost of a widely-used insulin would be 92 percent lower at Australian prices, 88 percent lower at UK prices, and 87 percent lower at Canadian prices.
  • There are 39,000 uninsured residents in Maryland’s 7th District who may bear the entire burden of their high prescription drug prices.
  • For a one-month supply of a certain brand of insulin, uninsured patients in Maryland’s 7th District pay 23 times as much as patients in Australia, 16 times as much as patients in the United Kingdom, and 14 times as much as patients in Canada.

We cannot sit back as diabetes patients are compromising their health, and even dying, due to the high price of their medications. It’s time to take action to rein in the out-of-control costs of insulin and other diabetes drugs.

In January of this year, I introduced the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, to allow the federal government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. And as Chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, I launched an investigation to determine why drug companies—including insulin makers—are increasing prices so dramatically and what they are doing with the proceeds.

In the District 

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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings addresses the crowd gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Fayette Street Outreach Center.

On April 25, I had the honor of speaking at the grand opening of the Fayette Street Outreach Center. The center has been a dream within the Fayette Street community for over 20 years, and it brings immense joy to my heart to know that the programs and classes offered there will help the community grow and prosper. Among other things, the Outreach Center will provide computer and coding classes for youth and adults, offer a GED program, offer a job development program, provide the community with a nutritional enhancement program through their garden, and host monthly community meetings. I want to thank Edna Manns-Lake, Timothy Bridges, Sterling Bunson and all of the faithful, empowered people of this community who transformed their dream into their mission and made this center possible.

 

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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings speaks at the wrap-up session of Howard County’s Courageous Conversations series at St. John Baptist Church in Columbia, MD. 

On April 15, I spoke at Courageous Conversations of Howard County’s wrap-up session. Now in its second year, Courageous Conversations was launched by six Howard County faith communities to encourage honest and open discussions about race and religious bias in our community. The Conversations are hosted over a six week period at different houses of worship in Howard County. This year, participants were encouraged to discuss “how do we work towards creating a connected community of different people rather than a community that lets different people in?” during their conversations. I applaud everyone who shared these difficult conversations during this year’s series. Through coming together we proved that our diversity is our promise, not our problem.

 

In Washington

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Carmen Balthrop and Members of Baltimore City Orchestra's Orchkids perform at the Library of Congress.

Earlier this month, I attended a concert of Baltimore’s Orchkids at the Library of Congress. The young performers were simply awesome. Founded in 2008, OrchKids is a year-round, during-and-after school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for young people in Baltimore. In collaboration with Baltimore City Public Schools, OrchKids provides music education, instruments, academic instruction, meals, as well as performance and mentorship opportunities to more than 1,000 children from Pre-K through 10th grade each year. Through these programs, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the many supporters of Orchkids are changing the trajectories of our children’s lives.

 

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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings and Donna Brazile discuss “Civic Engagement and the Future of American Democracy” at the concluding session of the 2018-2019 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy Lecture Series at Howard University.

On April 18, I participated in the concluding session of the 2018-2019 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy Lecture Series at Howard University. Donna Brazile chaired the event and the two-year lecture series which sought to provide students with access to experienced, senior public service executives who have developed and advanced public policy initiatives. At the event, we discussed “Civic Engagement and the Future of American Democracy.”

 

Second Chance Month

April is Second Chance Month. One in three American adults currently has a criminal record. Tragically a criminal record has become a life sentence for far too many, carrying with it the possibility —and all too often, the reality— of it negatively affecting one’s employment, housing, access to credit, child support, and so many other issues. This sadly can lead to recidivism, and over two-thirds of formerly-incarcerated people are rearrested within three years of their release.  

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Congressman Elijah E. Cummings speaks at a Returning Citizen Reentry Simulation.

On April 10, I spoke at a Returning Citizen Reentry Simulation where participants had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of individuals who are trying to re-join their families and re-enter their communities post-release from prison. Participants were able to experience some of the significant obstacles returning citizens face, particularly when it comes to obtaining employment, housing, transportation, and educational opportunities

To help ensure that a criminal record does not become a life sentence, this month I reintroduced the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act. This bicameral legislation would ease the barriers to re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals by expunging or sealing offenses that are committed by a child and providing a way for adults to seal non-violent criminal records.

Upon release from federal prison, formerly incarcerated individuals face many obstacles from being able to successfully re-join their communities. One of such obstacles is their lack of a photo ID and other important identification documents. Photo IDs are essential in securing housing, obtaining jobs, accessing social services, and applying for educational opportunities. That is why I am proud of the bill Senator Booker and I introduced earlier this month, the New Pathways Act. The bill will ensure that the Bureau of Prisons obtains identification documents to assist reentering individuals in their pursuits to re-join their communities.

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