NH Groups Urge Healthcare Improvements on Medicare, Medicaid Anniversary
Friday, July 30, 2021
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire advocates for affordable healthcare access want Congress to lower prescription costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.
Drug prices have risen faster than any other facet of medicine, and Laura Lynch - a 62-year-old New Hampshire resident who's covered by Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance - said she spends $300 to $350 a month just on co-pays for medications for herself and her husband.
They're also receiving collection notices, because Lynch said they can't afford the ambulance bills from a heart attack her husband had in February.
"This is ridiculously hard," said Lynch. "Sometimes I just want to cry, because I don't know where it's going to come from, the next penny or dollar to pay these bills. I am so for 'Medicare for All.' But I'm also so for them fixing Medicare, so that situations like this don't come up and we lose everything."
President Joe Biden's budget plan includes improvements to Medicare, such as allowing negotiations with drug companies. Lynch adds for her and many others, it's urgent that Congress take action.
Today is the 56th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, which together provide health coverage to more than 120 million people.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of the group Granite State Progress, said drug companies have a monopoly to set their own prices. She noted other government programs already negotiate with drug companies, and sometimes pay half of what Medicare pays for medicines.
She said allowing Medicare to negotiate would make prescriptions much for affordable for all consumers.
"Lawmakers have not taken meaningful action over the last decade to rein in drug corporations power to price gouge," she said, "despite strong support for policies like Medicare negotiations among all voters of all political persuasions."
The White House plan also would close the Medicaid coverage gap - New Hampshire has expanded its Medicaid program, but in the dozen states that have not, more than two million people don't fit the eligibility requirements, but also can't afford employer-based or marketplace health insurance.
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