Letter to the Editor: Cut Inflation Act Cuts Health Care Costs and Improves Access
Posted at 9:06 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2022
For the editor:
August 14 from Rep. Greg Murphye guest reviews, “The Great Heist of Medicare”, fails to recognize the significant benefits of the Cut Inflation Act for his constituents struggling with rising health care costs, many of whom are Medicare beneficiaries on fixed incomes.
Signed into law by President Biden on August 16e, this landmark legislation makes health care more accessible and affordable for thousands of North Carolina residents. He does this in several ways. Specifically, the new law:
- Allows Medicare to negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies must pay a penalty when the prices they charge Medicare rise faster than inflation. By reducing the cost of prescription drugs, this provision will benefit the 1,618,819 citizens of North Carolina who obtain their prescription drugs through Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program. Rep. Murphy repeats arguments from drugmakers that this legislation will stifle innovation. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that this would only affect 1% of the 1,300 drugs expected to hit the market over the next 30 years. Allowing the Medicare program to negotiate prices for the most expensive drugs will reduce costs for beneficiaries and increase access for low-income seniors who might otherwise not be able to afford their drugs. Among the drugs that AARP cites as examples of those that would currently be eligible for negotiation are Eliquis, Januvia, Xtandi, Myrbetriq and Orencia.
- Caps annual prescription drug spending for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000. An estimated 51,000 Medicare Part D enrollees in North Carolina who had to pay more than $2,000 in 2021 will now have their prescription drug costs capped at $2,000 per year.
- Limits insulin co-payments for Medicare enrollees to $35 per month. This provision would benefit approximately 116,335 North Carolina residents with Medicare.
- Provides free vaccines to Medicare beneficiaries. As of January 1, 2023, seniors will no longer have to pay a copayment for a vaccine recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, such as shingles.
- Extends increased federal premium subsidies for health insurance plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges. This provision, first included in the American Rescue Plan, helps those under 65 to purchase affordable insurance. According to AARP, this assistance fully covers premium costs for those with the lowest incomes and ensures that no one who purchases coverage on exchanges pays more than 8.5% of their income for premiums. About 626,000 North Carolina residents will save on their monthly health insurance premiums.
These are just a few of the many provisions that will benefit North Carolina residents.
The five Democrats representing North Carolina in the United States House of Representatives helped their constituents by voting for the Cut Inflation Act; all eight Republicans, including Rep. Murphy, voted against, as did Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. The Cut Inflation Act is to be applauded for reducing prescription drug costs and making health insurance more affordable. Representative Murphy has done his constituents a disservice by not supporting these important health care benefits.
Dare County deserves better representation in Congress. On November 8, I will vote for Barbara Gaskins. I hope you too.
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