In 2020, prescription drug prices increased at twice the inflation rate of the U.S. economy, according to a recent AARP report. On average, older Americans take 4.7 prescription drugs every month.
Much of the escalating cost is due to a law that created Medicare Part D, passed during the George W. Bush administration. It includes the non-interference clause that prevents the Secretary of Health and Human Services from negotiating the prices of drugs paid by Medicare recipients.
Rich Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss a recent ARA poll and why lower prices for Medicare drugs would benefit all Americans.
Medicare price negotiation popular among Democrats and Republicans
According to a poll released by the Alliance for Retired Americans, 87 percent of voters over age 65 favor allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, including 48 percent who are strongly in favor. Among Democratic seniors, 89 percent are in favor, as well as 87 percent of Republican seniors and 81 percent of independent seniors.
People want to pay less for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter — and the best way to do that is to allow for the negotiation of Medicare drug prices, Fiesta stated. This would benefit not only people on Medicare, but every American, as the price for drugs in America is greatly affected by what Medicare pays.
Congress to consider Medicare drug price negotiation
Congress has picked up the issue, and President Biden gave a speech on prescription drug prices last week. Medicare drug price negotiation has become a serious question that is no longer rhetorical, Fiesta said. When budget reconciliation bills are brought up in September, he is optimistic Medicare will be on a better path to negotiate drug prices.
Though drug companies are sure to be on the defensive end with deceiving ads attacking the idea, polls show this type of effort does not work, he stated. People see through the rhetoric and know that Americans pay some of the highest prescription drug prices in the world.
Fiesta is also encouraged by recent congressional changes to Medicare that cap the amount Medicare recipients pay for prescription drugs. It can still be high — perhaps $2,000 compared to several thousand dollars — but at least there is now a cap.