Millions of seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare will soon see lower premium payments for doctor visits and prescriptions.
This is what President Joe Biden promised during a public address on Sept. 27, explaining that Medicare Part B, which is the cost seniors pay for Medicare to cover their doctor’s visits, will decrease in 2023 for the first time in more than a decade.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, premiums will go down by 3%, which means users will pay $164.90 a month instead of $170.10. Additionally, the yearly deductible will drop from $233 to $226.
This change is part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will eventually account for lower prescription prices for seniors as well. Under this enactment, no senior on Medicare will have to pay more than $2,000 a year for all their prescriptions.
“For years, there had been no check on how high or fast Big Pharma can raise drug prices, but thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, that ends now,” Biden said in a statement. “Now, if Big Pharma tries to raise drug prices faster than inflation, they’ll be penalized and they have to rebate the money to Medicare.”
He also announced that insulin prices will be capped at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare who have diabetes. The news was lauded by many industry groups and advocates for older adults.
“As anyone who relies on medication knows, drug companies charge excessively high prices and have raised them year after year, often forcing patients to make impossible choices between affording the drugs they need to survive or making ends meet,” an opinion article in The Hill read shortly following the news of pricing adjustments.
Biden said in the address that thousands of Americans pay more than $14,000 a year for blood cancer drugs, more than $10,000 for ovarian cancer drugs and more than $9,000 for breast cancer drugs.
“Many people on Medicare skip those cancer drugs they need because they can’t afford them,” he said.
Under the new Inflation Reduction Act, however, he said the maximum they will need to pay each year is $2,000, regardless of the types of medications they need.
“It’s going to be a godsend to many families,” Biden said.
Lowering premiums in the coming year comes as a reactionary measure to previous spikes. According to CMS, premiums last year rose from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 in 2022, due to preparation for potential expenses, such as spending trends driven by COVID-19 and uncertain pricing and use of the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm.
However, Republicans are pushing to undo the lower premiums and other effects of the act. Four U.S. Senators recently introduced legislation to repeal Medicare negotiations involving lower premium payments and decreased prescription costs. House Republicans are also eyeing the drug pricing law as a key effort for the next session.
“Because those drug provisions are so dangerous by discouraging investment in life-saving cures, I would imagine that will be a top priority for Republicans in the new session,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told Axios.