Just over a year ago, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices on prescription drugs. Today, Biden announced the first 10 drugs subject to negotiation—and Big Pharma corporations are furious.
These are among the most outrageously priced drugs on the market, Pharma’s prized cash cows. For the first time ever, our government will stop Pharma corporations from charging as much as they want for life-saving and life-sustaining medications. This will include insulin products, directly lowering the price and breaking the pricing power that the three corporations of the insulin cartel have maintained for decades.
Nine million Medicare beneficiaries rely on these medications. These drugs also represent a huge share of Medicare spending. In 2022, Medicare spent $50.5 billion on them—about 20% of total Part D prescription drug costs. Beneficiaries paid $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs, which were as high as $6,497 per enrollee.
This is just the beginning. Within a decade, Medicare will have the power to negotiate lower prices on well over 100 drugs. That’s a huge win for seniors—and by far the biggest defeat Big Pharma has ever suffered.
Lowering drug prices by giving Medicare the power to negotiate is incredibly popular with voters across the political spectrum. Ninety percent of voters support Medicare negotiation, including 88% of Republican voters. Unfortunately, that bipartisan support doesn’t extend to the halls of Congress. Every single Republican in the House and Senate voted with Big Pharma and against lower drug prices.
Next time you see a Republican crying crocodile tears about the deficit, remember that they voted against legislation that will save Medicare nearly $100 billion in the next decade. Republican politicians don’t care about the deficit, only about finding an excuse to reach into our pockets and steal our earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Not only will Medicare negotiation save the government money, it will also allow Medicare beneficiaries to keep more of their hard-earned Social Security benefits in the form of lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. A separate provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, scheduled to begin in 2025, will cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 a year.
The Inflation Reduction Act has also already lowered Medicare beneficiaries’ insulin costs to $35 a month and made all critical vaccines available at no cost. All of this progress means more cash in seniors’ pockets, while promoting and protecting public health.
While Medicare negotiation is just beginning, it is already at stake in next year’s election. Republicans have already signaled that they will repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, including Medicare negotiation, if they gain control of the White House and Senate.
That’s not the only threat to Medicare negotiation. The Republicans are only dancing to the tune the Pharma corporations and their allies at the Chamber of Commerce are calling. These Pharma corporations and their allies have already filed eight lawsuits, claiming that they have the legal right to charge whatever they want for medications. This is an absurd legal argument, but they are hoping that Republican-appointed judges will care more about catering to business interests than impartially enforcing the law.
For decades, politicians promised to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. President Biden is finally making it happen.
This is the biggest defeat Big Pharma has ever suffered—and it won’t be the last. We are going to keep fighting until every single person in America can get the medications they need.
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