WASHINGTON NEWS SERVICE: The U.S. Senate has passed a bill which could dramatically reduce prescription drug prices for older Americans.
The Inflation Reduction Act includes investments of nearly $370 billion in programs to reduce the effects of climate change, as well as changes aimed at capping prescription drug costs.
Provisions in the bill would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and cap insulin copays at $35 a month for people with Medicare Part D.
Cathy MacCaul, advocacy director for AARP Washington, said there are other important parts of the bill as well.
"It caps out-of-pocket prescription drug prices on Medicare Part D to $2,000 each year," MacCaul explained. "Which is going to be a huge financial relief to a lot of older Americans who pay so much more than that for their prescription drugs."
MacCaul pointed out it would also hold drug companies accountable if they raise prices faster than the rate of inflation. Republicans have condemned the bill, warning despite its name, the legislation could exacerbate the country's economic woes. The measure now heads to the U.S. House for a vote.
MacCaul noted prescription costs have been a persistent issue for older Washingtonians. She recalled one AARP member she spoke with, named John, pays $500 a month for his heart medication.
"That's $6,000 a year," MacCaul stressed. "$6,000 a year that he is paying, just so his heart is healthy enough to help him continue to live. That's outrageous."
MacCaul believes there is a lot to celebrate in the Inflation Reduction Act, adding Medicare has been unable to negotiate drug prices for two decades.
"Congress is really on the verge of finally bringing prescription drug price relief to seniors, and really, that cannot be underemphasized," MacCaul stated. "This is a historic moment."