Pappas: Inflation Reduction Act to reduce costs of prescription drugs – Seacoastonline.com

DOVER – U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas listened to constituents’ stories about high prescription drug costs Tuesday, and explained how the new Inflation Reduction Act is poised to help.
Pappas met with constituents and staff members of New Hampshire AARP at The Sassy Biscuit restaurant in Dover to hear about the hardships caused by the high prices of many prescription drugs.
“Too many people are telling me stories of the high toll drug costs are taking on their lives,” said Pappas. “On average, our people are spending $1,000 a month on their prescriptions and sometimes it’s so much more. In other countries, they spend about $500. I believe the provisions in this bill provide some accountability, especially for those people on Medicare. More important, this is about the health and welfare of all of our citizens.”
A long-sought provision nationwide, the government will have the right to negotiate prescription drug prices by 2026. Pappas said there is no mechanism right now to do that so a system will need to be put in place.
By 2025, drug prices will begin to be capped. Pappas said there is already a list of about 100 drugs the government will cap first. 
Also in the bill is a provision to impose punitive rebates on pharmaceutical companies if they hike drug costs above the rate of inflation. 
And by 2025, a person’s out-of-pocket prescription drug costs will be capped at $2,000 a month.
Pappas said the stories he has heard, and was hearing on Tuesday, highlight the need for the bill. 
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Manchester resident Pat McDermott told a story of a friend battling cancer. 
“His particular type of cancer required stem cell treatment,” McDermott said. “But pre-treatment meant he had to have six rounds of chemotherapy. Each cost $80,000, before he even began his treatment, $480,000, so I applaud your efforts here.”
Jill Martin of Dover spoke of a blood thinner her mother requires.
“The cost is $9,000 a year,” Martin said. “There is no generic available, not even one in production. This is such a disservice to a population that is mostly seniors.”
Bedford resident Bev Cotton is a health care volunteer.
“While people are sitting to get their chemo treatments, I watch the nurses on the phones, trying to work with the patient’s insurance and the pharmacy, trying to find them the best price they can for the medicine they need to survive. Ketruda, a remission drug, became too expensive for one man, at $15,000 an infusion. He had to stop. His cancer returned, because of a lack of money.”
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The bill will make health insurance more affordable as people who buy their insurance through the Affordable Care Act will receive subsidies.
“Because of the subsidies, people using the ACA will save up to $800 a year,” said Pappas. “Plus, people on Medicare will get free vaccines, beginning in 2023.”
The bill sets a $35 monthly cap on insulin for those on Medicare. Pappas said they are working to cap the drug for all health insurance providers. 
“Considering the number of people who are diabetics in this country, it seems like the only the logical step to take,” he said. “Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins have been working on this.”
Christina FitzPatrick, New Hampshire AARP state director, said fighting to lower prescription drug costs is one of the reasons the agency was formed. She said it is in its DNA now. 
“We are very excited about the provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act,” FitzPatrick said. “Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, capping out-of-pocket expenses, and having some input into price increases is going to make a huge impact.”
FitzPatrick said Pappas invited them to come to the forum on Tuesday and that NH AARP has long worked with the New Hampshire delegation to effect change.
“We recognize this as a big win,” she said.
“We need to continue to work on this, because at the end of the day, public service is about making people’s lives better,” Pappas said. 

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