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Affordable Medication is an Urgent Priority

Prescription drugs cost more than twice as much in the United States as they do in any other developed nation. The main reason for this large and dangerous disparity is that other nations set limits on how much drug companies can increase their prices each year. Until recently, the U.S. had no such limits. Now there are a few, but many more are needed.


At the national level, some progress has been made to begin controlling the cost of the most expensive prescription drugs for seniors. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress and signed by President Biden in 2022, the following changes are now in place:

  • Medicare is able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of some of the most expensive medications.

  • Drug companies that increase the prices of any of their medications above the rate of inflation are required to pay a rebate to Medicare, which will be used to reduce co-pay amounts for these medications.

  • The out-of-pocket cost for insulin is capped at $35 a month for all those enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug plan

  • People with Medicare drug coverage pay nothing out of pocket for approved vaccines

These are important, but very limited, changes. More cost-reduction steps are needed, at both the federal and state levels.


This year, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, introduced a bill, the “Lowering Drug Costs for American Families Act” which, if passed into law, would extend the cost reductions of the Inflation Reduction Act to include private insurance companies as well as Medicare. This act would also increase the number of medicines that are subject to price reductions.


At the state level, Prescription Drug Affordability Boards have been established in a few states (Colorado, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington). The task of these boards is to review prescription drug use data and recommend to state officials specific ways to make medications less expensive. In our state of Michigan, a


Democratic-sponsored bill to establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, along with a number of other bills to help lower prescription drug costs, was introduced and referred to committee in 2022. When the state legislature reconvenes, these bills should be discharged from committee and voted on by the state Senate and House.


Lowering the cost of prescription drugs is an urgent priority. No one should have to forego taking a prescribed medication because they cannot afford the cost.


Please contact your federal and state senators and representatives and urge them to vote for legislation to make medications affordable for everyone.


Dr. Larry Feldman

Lakeside

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