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AARP AARP States Washington DC

New Medicare Benefits Will Help District Seniors Save

senior couple medicating at home

For too long, America’s seniors have paid the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Thankfully, landmark drug pricing reforms that AARP helped secure have started to go into effect. Our organization fought the big drug companies over these commonsense reforms for more than 20 years, and today, the new law is bringing real relief for the nearly 95,000 District residents currently enrolled in Medicare.

$35 Insulin Cap
Earlier this year, copays for 30-day supplies of any insulin covered by Medicare drug plans were capped at $35. That means enrollees will not have to pay more than $35 regardless of whether they have met their annual Part D deductible. This is huge for the Medicare beneficiaries in prescription drug plans in the District who use insulin.

Medicare Drugs Price Negotiations
After decades of opposition from big drug companies, Medicare will begin to use its buying power to get a better deal for American seniors and taxpayers by negotiating for lower drug prices. This will save Medicare and taxpayers billions of dollars and help ensure millions of older Americans can afford the prescription drugs they need.

The US government recently made public the first 10 medications covered by Medicare Part D that will be included in the initial round of the price negotiation process. This marks the first time in history that the price of life-sustaining medications that millions of older Americans in the nation’s largest health program rely upon to prevent strokes and blood clots and to treat diabetes and cancer will be subject to direct negotiation, leading to a lower price for Americans.

The first ten prescription drugs Medicare will negotiate include Eliquis- blood thinner, Jardiance- diabetes, heart failure, Xarelto- blood thinner, Januvia- diabetes, Farxiga- diabetes, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, Entresto- heart failure, Enbrel- rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Imbruvica- blood cancers, Stelara- psoriasis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Novolog- diabetes. By 2029, this list could include as many as 60 drugs with lower prices through Medicare’s direct negotiation.

Free Vaccines
Beyond these savings, Medicare now covers the total cost of all vaccines recommended for older adults, including shingles, whopping cough, and tetanus. An AARP analysis found that just 45 percent of people 50+ with Medicare have had a shingles vaccine, even though it is recommended for everyone over age 50. This expanded coverage helps ensure that Medicare enrollees are protected against serious illnesses and makes it more likely that they will have affordable access to the vaccines they need to stay healthy.

End Price Gouging
In the meantime, and thanks to the new law, if drug companies try to price gouge consumers by raising their prices faster than inflation – as they have for many years – they will be hit with new penalties.

These reforms are just one step to lower prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs, and AARP will keep fighting to ensure that all seniors can get affordable access to the drugs they need.

The bottom line is: Medications only work if you can afford them. That is why AARP fought for this new law and why we will keep fighting until every American can afford the prescriptions, they need to stay healthy.

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