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Today, over 578,000 Nevadans across our state are enrolled in Medicare. Medicare has been critical to helping Americans over 65 access the medical care they need to retire with dignity. Unfortunately, despite the financial assistance that many Medicare recipients get, I’ve heard from Nevada seniors about how difficult it is for them to afford their medications. I’m working to fix that.
Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act that I proudly helped pass and President Biden signed into law, we’re bringing down prescription drug costs and helping Americans live their lives more comfortably. Through this law, we capped the cost of insulin for Medicare recipients at $35 per month, expanded financial aid to help low-income Americans pay for their prescriptions, and established penalties for drug companies that raise their prices faster than the rate of inflation. We capped seniors’ annual out-of-pocket drug costs and limited increases in Medicare Part D premiums. And, in a major victory that’s been decades in the making, Medicare will now be able to negotiate lower prescription drug prices directly with Big Pharma companies.
In late August, the Biden Administration announced the first 10 medications that have been selected for price negotiation under Medicare Part D, which will improve access and affordability to some medicines that treat chronic conditions that are more prevalent among non-Latino Black adults, such as diabetes drugs Jardiance, Januvia, Farxiga, Fiasp and Novolog, as well as heart failure drug Entresto. The rest of the list includes drugs Eliquis, Xarelto, Enbrel, Imbruvica, and Stelara. The Department of Health and Human Services chose these 10 medications for the first round of price negotiations because they’re widely used, they’re expensive, and they’ve been on the market for years with no competition from generic equivalents.
Nevadans take these prescription drugs to live their lives to the fullest, but as Big Pharma continues to increase prices, many Nevadans struggle to afford the medications they need. Medicare enrollees taking any of these 10 medications paid a total of $3.4 billion out-of-pocket in 2022. The average annual cost for the most expensive drug on this list for Medicare enrollees who don’t receive financial assistance was $6,497 – that’s just for one medication. In addition, these 10 medications cost Medicare over $50 billion last year. All while big pharmaceutical companies are making millions in profits. That’s outrageous. Nobody should have to pay that much for lifesaving treatment.
Now, Medicare will negotiate directly with drug companies, saving taxpayers $25 billion in federal spending and ensuring seniors get a better deal for the medicine they need. That means it’ll bring down these high costs that have forced some Nevadans to choose between their medication and other essential life expenses. Our seniors, who helped build our state and make it what it is today, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Most importantly, these 10 drugs selected for negotiation are just the beginning. Moving forward, more drugs will be added to the negotiation list each year, allowing Medicare to secure lower prescription drug prices for seniors and taxpayers. Passing the Inflation Reduction Act is a key piece of that work, and we’ll soon see its impacts in every corner of our country with lower prices on some of Medicare’s most costly and widely-used medications. I’m going to keep working to make sure Nevadans are benefitting from this landmark legislation and can afford the medicines they need to stay healthy.