Joint Letter to U.S. House on Part D Reforms
the Part D benefit in any forthcoming prescription drug legislation.
Based on our work with people with Medicare and their families, we know that prescription drug affordability is an ongoing challenge. Our organizations frequently hear from older adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to cover their drug costs and obtain needed medications. Many people with Medicare live on fixed or limited incomes and cannot keep paying ever-rising health and prescription drug costs. Currently, half of all Medicare beneficiaries—nearly 30 million older adults and people with disabilities—live on $26,200 or less per year, while one quarter have incomes below $15,250 and less than $14,550 in savings. At the same time, health care costs are taking up a larger and more disproportionate share of beneficiaries’ limited budgets. In 2016, nearly 30% of Medicare households spent 20% or more of their income on health care, while only 6% of non-Medicare households did so. Out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs represent a significant share of this spending, accounting for nearly one out of every five beneficiary health care dollars.
Accordingly, we respectfully ask that in any legislation to address the problem of high and rising prescription drug prices, you include updates to the Medicare Part D benefit structure, appeals process, and low-income programs, as outlined below. These long-overdue improvements would help older
adults and people with disabilities better access and afford needed medications, as well as build and maintain their health and financial well-being.