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Medicare Drug Prices: Listen to the Organizations that Matter

Health and Gender Policy Brief #148 | By: Geoffrey Small | November 1, 2022

Header photo taken from: Phelan M. Ebenhack / The Associated Press

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Chart taken from: The Kaiser Family Foundation 2022 Report “An Overview of the Part D Prescription Drug Benefit”

Policy Summary

President Biden traveled to Irvine, California and Portland, Oregon during the month of October to promote the Inflation Reduction Act. As open enrollment for Medicare begins, the Biden administration is highlighting how seniors can benefit from health insurance savings made possible by the new policy. The Inflation Reduction Act aims to reduce senior health care premiums by an average of $800 annually.

To mark the beginning of his trip, Biden signed an executive order requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a report detailing ways seniors can save on drug costs and have access to innovative drug therapies. However, the California GOP released a response, claiming that the Inflation Reduction Act “will not reduce inflation” as elections draw closer. 

The Chairman of the California GOP, Jessica Millan Patterson, stated “Californians are suffering under the reckless policies of Joe Biden and the California Democrats who enable his failed agenda.” When dealing with contradictory claims related to this new policy, established medical and social organizations can provide better insight into how beneficial the Inflation Reduction Act truly is for seniors.

Policy Analysis

The American Medical Association

On August 17th, 2022, the AMA issued a press release on their assessment of the Inflation Reduction Act. The AMA stated that the bill includes  strategies that the organization has been advocating. Not only do they support the extended Affordable Care Act tax credits and the bill’s commitment to fight climate change, which the AMA declared as a public health crisis in June, but the organization also supports the ability for Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The AMA’s only critique of the bill was that it didn’t go far enough in stopping the Medicare payment cuts for physicians, which is scheduled to take place on January 1st.

The American Association of Retired Persons

The AARP has been one of the major advocates in lowering drug prices for seniors since the Inflation Reduction Act was advancing through Congress. AARP CEO, Jo Ann Jenkins, went to Capitol Hill to personally advocate for prescription savings. They also sent a petition with 4 million American signatures and helped AARP members send thousands of emails, as well as phone calls, urging Congressional members to pass the bill. Jenkins wrote a letter to AARP members in September stating “Drug companies have for decades raked in record profits by charging Americans three times what people in other countries pay for the same medications. Now that will begin to change.” She stated that the Inflation Reduction Act is a “historic victory for consumers.”

Chart taken from: The Kaiser Family Health Foundation 2021 Report “Racial and Ethnic Health Inequities and Medicare”

(click or tap to enlargen)

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

The NAACP issued a press release on Biden’s executive order the same day it was signed. The release stated “With one in four middle-class Americans struggling to afford the cost of their prescriptions, all efforts to reduce these costs are essential.” Keisha Deonarine, the Director of the NAACP’s Center for Opportunity, Race and Justice Center of Innovation, also stated “For Black Americans, thirty percent are not taking medications as prescribed due to cost. This results in under-usage of necessary medications resulting in poor health outcomes.”

Understanding these organizations’ assessments on the benefits of reducing drug prices and inflation is necessary during a time when election seasons lead to misleading political rhetoric. Donating to the AARP foundation and the NAACP can help keep Americans informed and balanced when making decisions about the future of health care and senior benefits in the United States.

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