Last week, Senate Democrats released updated prescription drug pricing legislation, with the goal of passing it through the reconciliation process in the coming weeks.
Like previous versions, the package would allow Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, cap beneficiary out-of-pocket (OOP) Part D drug costs at $2,000 a year, and penalize drug manufacturers for price hikes that outpace inflation. It also includes new provisions that would make Part D vaccines available with no cost sharing and expand eligibility for the Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program to individuals with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Currently, the threshold is up to 135% FPL, about $18,000 a year in 2022.
Medicare Rights has long supported these critical reforms. Together, they would achieve historic coverage and affordability gains, better ensuring that all people with Medicare have meaningful access to care. We urge Congress to advance these vital policies without delay.
As surveys consistently show, voters agree. There is overwhelming bipartisan agreement on the need for comprehensive prescription drug reform: more than 80% of Americans support steps such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and capping drug price inflation, and addressing high and rising drug prices is the top health care issue Americans want Congress to tackle this year.
Polling also continues to find that high health care and prescription drug prices are weighing heavily on consumers. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, half of all respondents reported delaying or going without care in the past year due to costs, and nearly one-third—including 43% of those with annual incomes under $40,000—did not fill a prescription or skipped doses due to affordability concerns.
Immediate action is needed to improve the nation’s drug pricing system in ways that will strengthen Medicare as well as beneficiary well-being. Absent such interventions, unaffordability will continue to rise, pricing an ever-growing number of Americans out of needed medications and coverage, leading to worse health outcomes and higher costs in the future.
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