Commentary

 Historic new law brings drug price relief to Nebraska’s seniors 

January 20, 2023 3:00 am

Medicare recipients who take insulin will be the first to benefit from the drug pricing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Here in Nebraska and across the country, a law passed last year will reduce the cost of prescription drugs and provide new benefits for millions of seniors.

After years of calling on Congress to make prescription drugs more affordable, we won the fight for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and help seniors save money on their medications. That, in and of itself, is huge. But the new law, passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in August, will significantly help in other ways.

Starting now in January, the law limits the cost of insulin to $35 a month for people on Medicare, saving money for an estimated 17,000 Nebraska Medicare beneficiaries who take the life-saving drug, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Also taking effect this year, Medicare enrollees won’t have any out-of-pocket costs for vaccines that the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends for adults. This includes the shingles vaccine, which in the past has had a high cost share but is now free for all Medicare enrollees.

The law will penalize drug companies if they raise prescription drug prices higher than the inflation rate. And for the first time, all 263,000 Nebraskans with Medicare Part D will have the peace of mind knowing their pharmacy costs are capped. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries with serious health conditions can face catastrophic out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. The new law requires Part D plans to beef up financial protections that will phase in starting in 2024, with a $2,000 annual out-of-pocket cap taking effect in 2025. Each year, that will reduce costs for about 13,000 Nebraska Medicare beneficiaries who would otherwise have out-of-pocket costs above the cap, according to the Kaiser foundation.

It’s estimated the law will save taxpayers and Medicare hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years by lowering out-of-control drug prices.

This is a historic victory, and it couldn’t come at a more needed time. Americans have had to pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries pay for the same drugs. And with the impact of inflation on all of us, seniors who worked hard their entire lives, raising families, building this country and giving back to their communities shouldn’t have to choose between filling a prescription or buying gas and groceries.

AARP led the fight to lower drug prices for America’s seniors, and we won. Our members, activists and volunteers here in Nebraska and across the country stood up and fought for the needs of seniors. Few people thought it would get done, but we did it.

As sweet as this victory is, though, the fight isn’t over. Drug companies are already spending millions of dollars to overturn the new law and stifle competition so they can drive up profits and keep charging Americans the highest prices in the world for the drugs they need.

AARP will keep fighting here in Nebraska and across the country, and we won’t back down until all Americans ages 50 and over can afford their medications. It’s the right thing to do, and older Americans deserve nothing less.

 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Suzan DeCamp
Suzan DeCamp

Suzan DeCamp, of Omaha, is volunteer state president of AARP Nebraska, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to empowering people to choose how they live as they age.

MORE FROM AUTHOR