By Karen Stokes
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a major development they’re taking to negotiate for and lower the cost of several common prescription drugs.
“It’s important to recognize that never before in the history of our country has a Medicare program which covers 65 million Americans, mostly seniors and Americans with disabilities. They have a chance to have the price of the drugs that they need to stay alive or stay healthy be negotiated at the best price,” said Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Now for the first time we have begun the process today of actually taking the ten costliest drugs for Medicare recipients and begun a negotiation to try to get the fairest price for those drugs.”
The negotiations will also be historic because it should end up saving the U.S. some money. The congressional budget office, which is Congress’ fiscal overseer, says about $100 billion over the next 10 years will be saved to Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries and the taxpayers as a result of these negotiations.
The timeline for the negotiations is that they will start today and should end by August 1. The prices then will be known by August 1, and will be posted; they will then be incorporated by different insurance companies, the Medicare program and by the beginning of January 2026, they will be in effect.
“We need to give it a little time to get into the system and let all the different parties absorb the new price. So by January 2026, this negotiation will help lower prices and every year we will be doing that same negotiation with a new set of drugs so this year it’s the top 10 costliest drugs. Next year we will begin the process for the next 15, then another 15 and so on,” Becerra said.
“The law as it was written, first the Democrats that supported this law wanted it to apply across the board for all 330 million Americans but they could not get votes from Republicans to pass that and so they were able to at least provide to the 65 million people who receive Medicare,” Becerra said. “As you saw with insulin which was part of this prescription drug law, insulin under the law was limited to $35 a month or less for recipients of Medicare and because of the pricing competitive pressure a lot of those drug companies that offer insulin have now chosen to lower the price of insulin for more than just Medicare recipients but for other Americans as well. We think that once it is clear what a fair price is for the drug it could help others as well when it comes to affording prescriptions that they need.”
In remarks that President Biden made concerning the lowering of cost for prescription medicine, Biden said, “Too many folks lay awake at night worrying what will happen if their spouse gets cancer or if their child gets sick or if something happens to one of them. This isn’t just about healthcare. It’s about your dignity. It’s about security.”