WASHINGTON, July 25, 2019 – Alliance for Aging Research President and CEO Susan Peschin, MHS, issued the following statement on the proposed Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act:
The Alliance for Aging Research applauds the Senate Finance Committee’s passage of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act that would place a cap on out-of-pocket (OOP) costs for older adults on Medicare Part D. With a recent Morning Consult Survey conducted on behalf of the Alliance for Aging Research showing that one in five older adults aged 60 and older are struggling to pay for their prescription drugs and three in four support legislation that would cap OOP for older adults with Part D coverage, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act is a step in the right direction for addressing the financial challenges faced by Medicare Part D beneficiaries. We hope Senators will consider the views of the Alliance as they seek to advance the bills to the Senate floor. Specifically, the Alliance supports the following provisions that were included in the bill:
- A limit on OOP expenses for older adults in Part D.
- The use of real-time benefit tools to lower beneficiary costs.
- A provision to permanently authorize a successful pilot on retroactive Part D coverage for low-income beneficiaries.
- A provision to improve coordination between the FDA and CMS to discuss challenges associated with the next generation of treatments and therapies that will be available to seniors.
- A provision that would authorize the Secretary of HHS to include patient perspectives in Medicare local and national coverage determinations.
We would strongly encourage the Senate to continue to consider for inclusion the following provisions:
- The Medicare Extra Rx HELP Amendment that would expand the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy.
- The inclusion of language to address HHS’ decision to withdraw the rebate rule.
- Language to streamline the Part D appeals process for beneficiaries.
- Language to prohibit the International Pricing Index (IPI) for Medicare Part B drugs.
We are concerned that the Senate Finance Committee did not address how to “smooth” expenses for beneficiaries with high upfront drug costs over the course of a benefit year. As it currently stands, beneficiaries taking high-cost medications bear a significant financial cost at the beginning of their plan year. This is because specialty medications can “burn through” the enrollee’s deductible, as well as the Initial Coverage Phase very quickly. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, high-cost enrollees will spend an average $2,140 on Part D drugs per month. For many older adults, this means they must pay a significant portion of their fixed incomes over a short duration of time.
The Alliance applauds the Senate Finance Committee for its work to lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. Placing a cap on out-of-pocket costs will help Medicare Part D beneficiaries live healthier, happier lives. We recognize that this legislation goes a long way toward alleviating the financial burdens on America’s older adults and encourage the Senate to consider provisions that will alleviate these burdens even more.
About the Alliance for Aging Research:
The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers. For more information, please visit www.agingresearch.org.