Alan Perlman, who has lived in Oakdale for 36 years, is a prime example of why Representative Kathleen Rice and her colleagues in Congress must pass legislation to reduce prescription drug costs. Perlman recently told us he was “shocked” when he went to the pharmacy to fill a prescription from his cardiologist for heart medication. The fee: $ 442 for a 30-day supply – with its Medicare coverage. It would have been $ 808 without insurance.
“I turned it down at first,” said Perlman, 75, who now lives in Dutchess County. His doctor ended up providing samples and they agreed that the brand name drug – which does not yet have a generic version – was working for him. Perlman did some research and found that in Canada the drug cost less than half the covered price he was facing.
Unfortunately, Perlman is far from alone. In a recent AARP poll, more than half of voters over 50 were concerned that they could afford the medications they or their family members need.
It’s no wonder seniors worry about the cost of prescription drugs. The AARP has been tracking price trends for almost two decades, and our research consistently shows that brand prices–name of the drugs most often used by the elderly are rising much faster than the prices of other goods and services. Our latest Rx Price Watch report looked at specialty drugs that treat complex chronic diseases and found that the average cost of using one of these drugs for a year was $ 84,442 in 2020. That’s close to three times the average annual income of a person on Medicare.
It cannot continue. Congress must act – now. We need Rice, one of a small group of House members whose resistance delayed a vote on the Build Back Better Act and its provisions to cut prescription drug prices, to vote yes to leave Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
The good news: There’s a deal in Congress that would save seniors and taxpayers billions of dollars on prescription drugs – and ensure Americans pay fair prices for the drugs we need. . It is outrageous that we have to pay three times what people in other countries pay for the same medicine.
The deal, which AARP has long championed, would help lower prices by:
- Allow Medicare – with more than 575,000 enrolled in Long Island – to negotiate the prices it pays for prescription drugs. Each year, Medicare spends over $ 129 billion on prescription drugs. Yet the law prohibits him from using his purchasing power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies in order to obtain lower prices. Giving Medicare the power to negotiate would save taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries $ 117 billion and lower prescription drug costs for all Americans.
- Create an annual cap on what people on Medicare pay for prescription drugs. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and paying for food or rent.
- Require drug companies to pay a rebate if they increase the price of existing drugs faster than the rate of inflation. Our Rx Price Watch reports found that this happens year after year – and Americans would pay a lot less for their drugs if those prices only increased as fast as other goods and services.
Americans are tired of paying the highest prices in the world for their prescription drugs. Rice needs to stand with older Americans, not drug companies, and vote for the deal to cut drug prices now.
This guest essay reflects the views of Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP New York.