AARP: Inflation Reduction Act to Save Seniors Millions on Drug Costs
Thursday, August 18, 2022
President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act this week, lowering energy costs, building a green economy, reducing pollution, reforming the tax code and cutting the deficit. But advocates for seniors say lowering Medicare costs will benefit the most Americans.
Democrats passed the bill, which contains several elements of the ill-fated Build Back Better program, with no support from Republicans.
Dana Kennedy, state director with AARP Arizona, said the health-care portions of the bill are the result of a 20-year battle with drug lobbyists on behalf of millions of Medicare patients.
"When costs go down, 50 million with Medicare Part D will have peace of mind knowing that their pharmacies are capped at $2,000 a year," said Kennedy, "3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 a month."
Kennedy said the biggest savings for seniors may be a rule allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
Since Congress created Part D drug plans in 2006, Medicare has been blocked from negotiating with pharmaceuticals, meaning seniors often pay full retail prices.
Sen. Mark Kelly - D-AZ - speaking at an AARP virtual roundtable, called the bill a major defeat for pharmaceutical companies - which pay 1,600 lobbyists almost $200 million dollars a year to protect their ability to set drug prices without regulations. Kelly said the bill will put the brakes on rising costs.
"The cost of these medications will not continue to go up faster than inflation," said Kelly. "What somebody said, if the price of gasoline went up the same rate as the price of prescription drugs since 2015, a gallon of gas would be $12."
In addition to fixing parts of Medicare, the measure will save 13 million Americans more than $800 a year on health plans, make 3 million more people eligible for health coverage, and will lower the number of uninsured Americans.
"I think it's fair to say that across the country, millions will save billions of dollars," said Kelly. "When you do the math, it's very impactful."
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