This week, the Center for Medicare Advocacy joined a coalition of advocates led by AARP that is urging a federal court to reject an attempt to block Medicare’s drug price negotiation program. The case is one of many brought by drug manufacturers around the country that seeks to strike down the negotiation program created by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The negotiation program allows Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate prices and reduce the cost of high-cost drugs for the first time.
The coalition’s amicus brief, filed in a case bought by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, explains that the negotiation program will help older adults and people with disabilities afford life-saving prescription drugs. Many Medicare beneficiaries are directly affected by high drug prices because they are responsible for Part D “coinsurance” amounts, which are based on a percentage of the drug’s price. Sadly, many beneficiaries still find themselves delaying prescription fills, skipping doses, or forgoing other necessities due to drug costs. Non-adherence to prescribed treatments can endanger beneficiaries’ health, result in costly hospitalizations, and even cause premature deaths. All Medicare beneficiaries are affected by high drug prices to some degree because monthly premiums for Medicare drug plans take prices into consideration.
The brief also explains that the drug price negotiation program will protect the financial integrity of Medicare and save taxpayers billions of dollars. Before the IRA, Medicare was prohibited by law from negotiating the price of drugs directly with manufacturers. This amounted to a special exemption for drug companies that other medical providers and suppliers do not have. Hospitals, nursing facilities, and physicians participating in Medicare have all faced limits on payments for decades. This ensures their services are affordable for beneficiaries and taxpayers. But drug companies received a special carve-out. The Medicare negotiation program begins to bring payment for prescription drugs in line with Medicare’s payment for other items and services.
- Read the brief at https://medicareadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Amici-Curiae-brief-re-Astrazeneca-.pdf
- Amicus briefs in support of the negotiation program were also submitted by health policy economists and scholars, health care and Medicare experts, and consumer advocacy organizations.
November 9, 2023 – A. Bers