Medicare beneficiaries have been at the forefront of the pandemic battle. In the past 13 months, eight out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths were among people 65 and older. In addition to suffering from such devastation, older adults are facing substantial out-of-pocket health care costs in the form of insurance premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance, including for physician visits, hospital stays, and medical devices.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual out-of-pocket cost in 2019 for patients requiring a specialty medication was more than $8,000. When was the last time that you calculated how much you are spending out of pocket for medical bills? It might be time to revisit your Medicare plan. Get your FREE quote and find out how much you could be saving today!
Biden on board
President Biden’s speech announcing his American Families Plan reaffirmed his strong support for legislation to lower drug prices through Medicare negotiation. “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices,” he said. “Let’s do it now.”
It has been 15 years since the Part D prescription drug benefit was created, and although the program is popular, it has not kept pace with the needs of patients with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases. The Medicare Part D benefit requires thoughtful updates to ensure the more than 46 million people who rely on the program can afford their prescribed medications.
According to Patients For Affordable Drugs, tens of thousands of Americans have stories of skipping doses, cutting pills in half, rationing insulin, or choosing between paying the bills and buying the drugs they need. Senior Americans are paying almost four times what people in other wealthy nations pay for the exact same brand-name drugs.
“We have an opportunity to, finally, make drug prices affordable if we stand with patients and stand up to Big Pharma. Now is the time for Congress to pass legislation that will deliver meaningful relief from high drug prices to the American people. With President Biden’s support, this is the year we will lower drug prices for Americans struggling to afford their medications,” said Congressman Peter Welch on The Hill.
Democrat’s latest drug bill
Recently, H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, was reintroduced. This bill would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on behalf of all Americans, prevent price gouging, and direct more money to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for critical research to ensure innovation and new drug development.
H.R. 3 would limit the annual out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries to no more than $2,000 and would establish a top negotiated price for drugs at no more than 120 percent of the average of six other wealthy nations. The bill would penalize drug companies that increase prices faster than the rate of inflation.
Congressional support is not far behind. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made clear her intention to include H.R. 3 in the American Families Plan. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the Finance Committee that will advance drug price legislation, has made clear his support for Medicare price negotiations.
The reforms in H.R. 3 are widely supported. Ninety-three percent of Americans agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices. It’s an issue that overwhelmingly unites Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
This past year has been unlike any other for older Americans. Stay updated with the latest legislative effort by signing up for your very own Medicare World Newsletter.