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Local News

Arizona Seniors are Cheering for Lower Health Care Costs

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by Linda Somo, Arizona Mirror
September 18, 2023

Thanks to the work of President Joe Biden and Congress, seniors are finally starting to get the lower drug costs they deserve. 

August 16 marked the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, which lowers prescription drug and health coverage costs for millions of Americans. And finally, after 20 years of waiting, Arizona seniors are cheering the fact that Medicare will begin negotiating the prices of commonly-used, life-saving pharmaceuticals.

For decades, Big Pharma has blocked this from happening. While pharmaceutical companies made record profits and spent millions of dollars on lobbying and advertising their products, millions of Americans were forced to choose between paying for medications they needed to live, or paying for other necessities, like food or rent.

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In addition to this great  achievement, the law also lowers health care premiums for people who buy their own coverage by $2,400 on average, caps insulin costs for people on Medicare and penalizes big drug companies for egregious price hikes. All of which is already helping Arizonans. 

This is just the beginning. Soon, seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs will be capped at $2,000 annually, and Medicare will finally be able to negotiate lower drug prices. This month, the Biden administration announced which 10 drugs were selected for the first round of price negotiations.

In celebration of these achievements, the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans recently joined Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour in Tempe to demonstrate how these important changes are already driving down health care costs by thousands of dollars a year — with even more savings on the way. 

We discussed how so many of our seniors are already feeling relief from the direct impact these historic health care measures have on their lives. U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, discussed his role in helping to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and how he has been supporting President Biden as the administration takes action to eliminate surprise medical bills and expand protections for people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, cancer, and diabetes. 

Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford to take them, and high drug prices are keeping far too many Americans from the health care they need. Patients should not be paying exorbitant out-of-control prices for medicines that they need when all it’s doing is increasing drug company profits and paying for outrageous CEO salaries — especially when those same drugs are sold for far less elsewhere in the world, and the drug companies are still making profits on those lower prices. 

Unfortunately, those big drug companies and their allies in Congress are trying to sabotage this monumental progress in order to protect their outrageous profits. 

After spending more than $100 million on lobbying to kill the Inflation Reduction Act, drug companies are suing the federal government to try to take away Medicare’s power to negotiate drug prices. While Americans are cutting pills and skipping doses, drug companies are claiming their industry should be exempt from negotiating with Medicare, and they should continue to be allowed to overcharge seniors and have taxpayers pad their sky-high profits. 

This is insulting to American patients who pay up to four times more for the same drugs as patients in other wealthy countries.

Despite strong opposition, President Biden and Congress stood up to big drug companies and won a decades-long battle to lower the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices and ending the era of drug companies’ unchecked power and greed. Arizonans depend on quality, affordable health care to live healthy, secure lives, and the Inflation Reduction Act is an historic step forward to lowering costs. 

That loud noise that you hear is the cheering of millions of seniors who will benefit from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the lowering of the cost of prescriptions.

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Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.