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Granite Staters: Time is Now to Lower Prescription-Drug Costs


Thursday, April 14, 2022   

Advocates for older Americans are urging Congress to take action on lowering drug prices, specifically, allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.

The Build Back Better Act would have done so, as well as cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors and impose tax penalties on drug companies for excessive pricing. The legislation has been stalled in the U.S. Senate after the House passed it last year.

In New Hampshire, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatment increased by more than a quarter from 2015 to 2019, but annual income for residents only increased 9%.

Jennifer Delaney, associate state director of advocacy, AARP New Hampshire said the price inflation is hurting Granite Staters.

"A lot of folks cannot afford their drugs," Delaney observed. "They're choosing between heating their homes, putting food on the table or taking their life-saving prescription medicines. And I'm talking about folks who have cancer, Parkinson's, diabetes."

Delaney pointed out when people ration their medicine or skip doses, it can have negative health outcomes, and even lead to hospitalization. She added according to the Congressional Budget Office, drug-pricing measures passed by the House would save the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades.

Megan O'Reilly, vice president of federal health and family government affairs for AARP, said the Senate Finance Committee recently held a hearing on the urgent need to lower drug prices. Opponents argued it would harm innovation, but O'Reilly noted support for Medicare negotiation is high across the political spectrum.

"Taxpayers are bearing the burden of these increased prices, but they've also been paying to help in the research and development of them," O'Reilly contended. "And yet there's no check on the drug industry, as they continue to raise these rates, really, out of the pocketbooks of families across New Hampshire and across the country."

More than 85% of respondents to an AARP survey said Congress needs to take action to lower drug prices. More than 75% of Democrats and more than 50% of Republicans said they would look more favorably on a political candidate who supports reducing drug costs.

Disclosure: AARP New Hampshire contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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