Prior to the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, I was one of the many Floridians contending with astronomical drug prices. Medication cost me over $5,000 a year –– a number that should almost be criminal and would be deemed unacceptable in almost any other developed country.
As a Medicare beneficiary on a fixed income, I was forced to make hard choices to save enough to afford the medicine I needed to stay healthy. This situation is unfortunately normal: in today’s economy, seniors are especially impacted by high prescription drug costs, with nearly one in four of us struggling to access the medications we need.
Fortunately, help is on the way for me and so many across the nation. By signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law, the Joe Biden administration has helped to lower health care costs for the American people.
Along with fighting inflation and making key investments in climate and energy, the bill will finally rein in prescription drug costs for millions of seniors like me.
Decades in the making, the Inflation Reduction Act finally gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. This alone will drive down the prices of some of the most popular and expensive drugs for seniors on Medicare, including the expensive medicine that I struggled to pay for. In fact, polling shows over 80% of Americans support giving Medicare the power to negotiate, making it among the most popular provisions in the entire bill. By 2030, more than 80 drugs will be eligible for Medicare price negotiation.
The Inflation Reduction Act caps out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 per year. Seniors like me with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis will save thousands of dollars on prescriptions under this provision. As it stands, more than 1.4 million Medicare enrollees paid more than $2,000 in out-of-pocket costs in 2020. Thanks to this bill, over 3 million seniors could see savings of more than $1,500 a year. Here in Florida, where we have more seniors per capita than any other large state, the reverberations are truly momentous.
The Inflation Reduction Act will require Part D plans to offer improved financial protections that would phase in starting in 2024, with a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap taking effect in 2025.
Each year that will benefit over 113,000 Florida Medicare beneficiaries who would otherwise have out-of-pocket costs above the cap. And, for the first time, all 3.6 million Floridians with Medicare Part D will have peace of mind of knowing their pharmacy costs are capped.
That means no out-of-control costs for lifesaving medicine.
The Inflation Reduction Act also protects Americans on Medicare from exorbitant price increases. Year after year, drug companies hike the prices of medications far beyond the rate of inflation, forcing more than one in five seniors not to take medication as prescribed. Rationing medication has serious health implications for seniors, with 22% reporting their health condition worsened as a result. This legislation takes immediate action to stop Big Pharma from raising Medicare drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.
In addition to driving down prescription drug costs for millions of seniors, the Inflation Reduction Act will lower health care premiums by extending Affordable Care Act (ACA) financial assistance for three years, helping level the playing field for working families in Florida and deliver affordable care to Americans from all walks of life, including older adults, people with disabilities, people in rural communities and people of color.
Florida’s seniors like myself stand to benefit in a big way from the savings from The Inflation Reduction Act. Thanks to President Biden and Democrats in Congress, millions of seniors will no longer be forced to choose between putting food on the table and affording the medications they need to survive.
Despite a $100 million lobbying campaign from the pharmaceutical lobby and unified opposition from Republican lawmakers, President Biden and Democrats delivered on their promises to put people over politics.
Joanne Goodwin is a local retiree in Pompano Beach and President Emeritus of the North Broward Democratic Club.