Today, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond announced that AARP members successfully lobbied against Congressional attempts to weaken recent Medicare Part D donut hole improvements with the Senate passing of the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act:
“We hear all the time from older Americans who are struggling to afford needed medications. Reversing the progress made under current law will increase prescription drug costs for older Americans while providing a windfall of billions of dollars to the drug industry. We urge Congress to reject any attempt to roll it back and to do more to lower drug costs, says LeaMond, whose Washington, DC-based organization represents 38 million members.
According to LeaMond, the Medicare Part D improvements, part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, saves older American’s billions of dollars in their out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.
Don’t Touch the Medicare Part D Doughnut Hole Deal!
In late August, LeaMond warned of the lobbying efforts by PhRMA to change the Medicare Part D doughnut hole deal. She said, “AARP strongly opposes PhRMA’s attempts to cut a backroom deal with Congress and reverse the Medicare Part D doughnut hole improvements enacted earlier this year that put drugmakers on the hook for a higher share of Medicare drug costs.
“The Part D doughnut hole improvements, which are now law, are good for seniors. These improvements will save seniors billions of dollars in out-of-pocket costs on their prescription medications by moving them through the prescription drug coverage gap faster, which results in lower co-payments,” she added, noting that “we need to be doing more, not less, to help lower their drug costs and we certainly should not roll back the progress that has been made.”
That month, Joyce A. Rogers, AARP’s Senior Vice President Government Affairs, wrote House lawmakers, who recently signed onto a letter that called for this benefit to be revised, to oppose attempts to eliminate the Medicare Part D donut hole provisions that were included in the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018.
“Undoing this progress will increase prescription drug costs for older Americans, particularly those who face the highest costs. As the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise, access to affordable prescription drugs is a key issue for older Americans,” LeaMond stated in the August 8th correspondence.
Seniors Continue to Struggle to Pay for Prescription Drugs
“Those age 65 and older use prescription drugs more than any other segment of the U.S. population, typically on a chronic basis. However, older Americans continue to struggle to afford the drugs they need, and the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise,” said Rogers, stressing that over four years average brand-name drug commonly used by seniors increased by 15.5 percent.
“Specifically, the BBA requires drug manufacturers to provide beneficiaries with a higher discount on their brand name prescription drugs while they are in the Part D coverage gap, which will allow them to move more quickly through the donut hole and lower their out-of-pocket costs. This critically important reform will enable beneficiaries who face high drug costs to pay less for their prescription drugs,” said Rogers.