As part of Joe Biden’s bid to Build Back Better, Congress is likely to pass a bill to lower the price of prescription drugs in a bit to make for more affordable healthcare in the country.
It’s a huge step forward that has been put forward for vote by the Democrats that would not only lower drug prices, but also Affordable Care Act premiums too. This would reduce costs for those people on Medicare, as well as people with certain disabilities and over the age of 65.
The bill has been been widely regarded as a successful pitch, with 92% of people considering a change to lower prescription drugs costs a priority according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while nine out of 10 also believed that “allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get a lower price on prescription drugs for people with Medicare” is a positive.
Of course, for those that need the help it could cap costs at $2,000, while also enhancing subsidies in areas too. That over time could reduce the federal deficit by $288billion over 10 years and a clear plan has been laid out between now and 2029. This will largely consist on the negotiations as well as imposing rebates on drug manufacturers that increase prices at a faster rate than inflation.
While positive, the news comes at a time when prescription drugs addiction is at an all time high. It’s believed around 16.1million people in the country have misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs over the last 12 months, and there’s perhaps a fear that lowering the cost of those could increase that figure further.
The rise in fentanyl users is especially a cause for concern and right across the USA, treatment programmes are being accelerated to try and deal with the issue, especially amongst young people. In Vancouver, an experiment has begun to try and prevent overdosing, while in other parts of the country testing kits have been doled out to college students to ensure safe practice, not aiming to stop the problem, but managing it.
Ultimately, however, slashing prices of prescription drugs is hugely necessary during a cost of living crisis, and the pros of doing so will have to outweigh the cons that it could lead to further addiction problems.
It’s the first step on creating a healthier nation, although reducing the cost of vegetables and produce in the nation following significant inflation over the past 12 months should also be high on the agenda.
The reconciliation bid has yet to be passed at present, with a view to it being implemented from 2023 should it do so, initially with rebates for those drug price rises that have surpassed inflation, before 2024 welcomes the elimination of 5% of coinsurance for catastrophic coverage. Should it be passed, it would be a landmark moment for US healthcare. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
For more information on the proposed bill, visit: https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/how-would-the-prescription-drug-provisions-in-the-senate-reconciliation-proposal-affect-medicare-beneficiaries/