Washington, DC – Today, President Biden is set to deliver a speech in Las Vegas highlighting new data which shows the current and future savings for people on Medicare. Millions of seniors and people with disabilities will continue to get more breathing room with their monthly health care costs thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act passed by President Biden and Democrats in Congress.
HHS has released new data that shows over 3.4 million seniors and people with disabilities will save an average of $70 per year due to an Inflation Reduction Act provision that allows Medicare beneficiaries to get recommended vaccines for free as of this past January. Previously, Medicare-enrolled recipients may have to pay up to $424 for the shingles vaccine alone.
Additionally, HHS announced the producers of 27 drugs will need to pay rebates to Medicare because the prices of the drugs were raised faster than the rate of inflation because of a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act which creates a critical check on drug companies that try to excessively raise their prices. Some Medicare beneficiaries that take these drugs will save between $2 to $390 per dose of medication starting in April.
Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:
“Big Pharma has been able to pull the strings and hose the American people for far too long while those on a fixed income have struggled to afford the preventative and life-saving care they need. The Inflation Reduction Act has been a monumental step forward to reining in drug company greed. President Biden and Democrats in Congress have delivered on their promise to lower costs for American families, and because of them, millions of Americans will no longer have to choose between their health care and paying for food or rent. Working people and seniors will pay less for their prescription drugs and vaccinations, so families have a little more breathing room. Now, we must build on this progress and we will not quit until everyone can afford the care they need.”
USA Today: President Biden Touts Drug Savings For Medicare Beneficiaries As Changes Roll Out. “Seniors could save an average of $70 a year on vaccines under Medicare changes President Joe Biden is touting Wednesday to argue his efforts to reduce health care costs are working. Medicare recipients may also pay less for medicines administered at the doctor’s office if receiving one of 27 drugs whose prices have risen faster than inflation. The administration also announced Wednesday how it will select ten drugs for price negotiations with manufacturers, and how those negotiations will happen. The chosen drugs will be announced in September. ‘We’re going to now be able to begin the historic process of negotiating to get lower competitive prescription drug prices,’ said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. ‘We’re taking on powerful interest to bring down health care costs so Americans can sleep better at night.’ The Medicare changes are part of a massive bill passed last year to address health costs, make historic investments in clean energy and raise taxes on corporations. Biden, who is expected to travel the country this year to promote his legislative accomplishments, will speak about the Medicare prescription drug savings at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.” [USA Today, 3/15/23]
Washington Times: White House Outlines Steps To Slash Drug Costs Under Signature Biden Law. “The Biden administration on Wednesday outlined its effort to implement signature legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs for the first time and slashes costs of other drugs that seniors rely on. White House officials said the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden and Democrats muscled to passage last year will reduce out-of-pocket costs for more than two dozen drugs under Medicare and make certain vaccines free for 3.4 million Americans. ‘Those folks, they paid about $234 million in out-of-pocket costs for those vaccines back in 2021,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. ‘Today, they would pay zero dollars as a result of the president’s new lower prescription drug law.’ Mr. Becerra’s agency also will release guidance on how it plans to implement a marquee part of the law that allows Medicare to negotiate down the cost of certain medicines in Part D, the prescription-drug benefit. Medicare will announce the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation in September. The administration outlined new and pending benefits for seniors as Mr. Biden leans into the health care debate ahead of the 2024 election cycle.” [Washington Times, 3/15/23]
AP News: Biden Drawing Contrast To Republicans On Lower Drug Costs. “President Joe Biden will highlight the stark differences in how Democrats are tackling skyrocketing drug prices compared to their Republican counterparts as he gears up for an expected reelection announcement. In a speech on Wednesday in Las Vegas that could serve as a preview of the campaign ahead, Biden planned to put the issue of lowering drug costs at the center of his policy and political agenda. The White House thinks it has a winning message in showcasing legislation passed last year that is expected to save taxpayers billions of dollars and lower the cost of drugs for the roughly 84 million Americans who rely on Medicare. […] The federal government expects to see significant savings from those negotiations and to make money from a rule that requires drugmakers to send Medicare a check when they raise drug prices higher than inflation. That’ll help shore up the social safety net for older Americans, Biden told Democratic donors on Monday in Rancho Santa Fe, California. ‘Not only is it the right thing to do for people, it cuts the deficit by $160 billion,’ he said. Already, the legislation caps the price of insulin at $35 for disabled and older Americans who rely on Medicare.” [AP News, 3/15/23]
NBC News: Biden To Highlight Lower Prescription Drug Costs. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday is set to announce fines on drugmakers for raising prices on some drugs faster than inflation for people on Medicare, a move that will lower people’s coinsurance payments. Ahead of Biden’s remarks, in Las Vegas, administration officials previewed the actions that the president and his health care team have taken to lower drug costs in a call with reporters Tuesday night. The Inflation Reduction Act, which the president signed into law last year, includes prescription drug provisions that penalize pharmaceutical companies for raising prices for certain drugs faster than the rate of inflation for Medicare beneficiaries, the officials noted. Starting next month, some Medicare beneficiaries will see lower out-of-pocket prices for 27 prescription drugs whose prices rose faster than inflation in the last quarter of 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services announced. Companies that violated the provision of the law will be required to pay Medicare a rebate to cover the difference in pricing.” [NBC News, 3/15/23]
The Hill: Biden Administration Names First Round Of Drugs To Face Medicare Rebate Penalties. “The Biden administration has released its first list of nearly 30 drugs covered by Medicare that will be subject to the penalties included in the Inflation Reduction Act, because their prices increased faster than the rate of inflation. Under the act, drug manufacturers are required to pay rebates to the federal government if the price of medications covered by Medicare Part B and Part D increase at a rate that exceeds inflation. This measure was included as a way of limiting drug costs, along with price caps that were included in the legislation for seniors. The Department of Health Human Services released a list of 27 drugs on Wednesday that will be subject to the rebate penalty. Medications on the list included the arthritis treatment Humira as well as cancer treatments like Rybrevant, which is indicated for certain cases of non-small cell lung cancer and was first approved in 2021. ‘Seniors may see their out-of-pocket costs for these drugs decrease by $2 to as high as $390 per average dose starting April 1st,’ the White House said in a statement.” [The Hill, 3/15/23]
Wall Street Journal: First Drugs Facing Medicare Price Penalty Are Named. “U.S. health officials released the first list of drugs paid for by the government’s Medicare insurance program whose prices went up more than the rate of inflation and will face a penalty under a new federal law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday named 27 drugs that had the large price increases, including rheumatoid-arthritis treatment Humira from AbbVie Inc. and Yescarta lymphoma therapy from Gilead Sciences Inc., and will face the price-increase penalty in the form of a rebate. The federal government will start billing the pharmaceutical companies that sell the medicines for the rebates in 2025, according to the health officials. Companies that don’t pay could face a penalty that is 125% of the rebate amount. Starting in April, some Medicare beneficiaries will also pay less out of pocket for any of the 27 prescription drugs they take. The beneficiaries could save $2 to $390 per average dose on their out-of-pocket cost, health officials said. The rebate program ‘is a critical way to address long-term price increases by drug companies while improving access and affordability for the millions of people with Medicare coverage,’ said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/15/23]
Bloomberg Law: Drug Price Law to Launch New Era in Medicare, Top Official Says. “Jonathan Blum was a Senate staffer early in his career when Congress developed the original Medicare Part D prescription drug program. More than 20 years later, he holds a position at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that gives him huge influence over the next major iteration of drug pricing policy. Blum returned to the federal government in 2021 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic with a goal of expanding the reach of CMS programs after working in the commercial insurance world. ‘What I saw during the last three years with the Covid pandemic’ was ‘a health-care system that largely failed many people,’ Blum, 53, said in an interview. ‘To come back and really take the lessons from the past three years or so, and have CMS better positioned going forward to build more resilient health-care systems, more resilient health-care communities, really focusing on programs for how we help people going forward, that to me is a huge opportunity for us.’ He’ll consider the agency’s work a success if it results in ‘lower costs to beneficiaries and better clinical measures’ as a result of more patients better able to afford needed therapies, he said.” [Bloomberg Law, 3/15/23]