Lawmakers Mull Drug-Pricing Reforms as Costs Become Top Issue for Voters
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Democrats say they have reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes measures aimed at lowering prescription-drug prices.
Senate lawmakers could begin considering its passage this week.
Donna Christensen, board member of Consumers for Quality Care and former Congressional Representative from the US Virgin Islands, said if passed into law, the changes would primarily affect Americans relying on Medicare.
"Medicare Part D, there'll be a cap on out-of-pocket costs to the beneficiaries," Christensen explained. "I think that's a very good thing. We wish that it would be extended to the privately insured as well, though, because they are facing increasing out-of-pocket costs."
Major drug companies and other opponents argued the legislation will stifle innovation and reduce the number of new medications available to consumers.
A recent survey from Consumers for Quality Care found 80% of voters feel their health care costs, including deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses and unpaid medical bills continue to increase each year.
Christensen pointed out research has shown Affordable Care Act caps on out-of-pocket costs -- which can stretch into the thousands of dollars depending on the medication -- have proved too high for most individuals to utilize.
"It's causing people to delay or skip health care because of it," Christensen observed. "Because they're afraid of incurring medical debt."
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released earlier this year, 6 in 10 working-age adults with health-insurance coverage have gone into debt getting medical care in the past five years.
Advocates are calling on lawmakers to set affordable out-of-pocket caps and $35-a-month copay caps on insulin for those covered by Medicare and private insurers.
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