COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Biden administration began its state-by-state information campaign on Medicare prescription drug negotiations Wednesday, one day after unveiling which drugs would fall under the first-ever talks.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced 10 prescription drugs for Medicare price negotiations. The changes won't take place until 2026, but the federal government is hoping this will make medications more affordable for seniors and other Americans.
Scott Miniea with Missouri Connections for Health said there are about 140,000 Medicare beneficiaries in central Missouri. He is hopeful this change will help.
"Depending on how this is implemented and how much of the savings are passed on to the individual consumer versus savings for Medicare overall--meaning the government--it could have a huge impact," Miniea said.
He said he often works with people who are making decisions between paying for necessary medications versus paying their rent.
Bill Morrissey at Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy said he also sees a large population of patients on Medicare with a fixed income, which makes it hard for people to absorb the high drug prices.
"We get to see the patients face-to-face and sometimes, unfortunately, have to be the bearer of bad news of how expensive a medicine will be," Morrissey said.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows 75,000 Missouri Medicare enrollees needed Eliquis in 2022, paying an average of $482 per person in out-of-pocket costs per year.
The White House reports that 3-in-10 Americans struggle to afford medications, with seniors paying a total of $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for the newly announced drugs in 2022.
In a news conference Wednesday, Deputy Assistant to the President for Health and Veterans Christen Linke Young said the federal government will move forward with the implementation, and people will be able to see effects very soon after the changes take effect.
"We hope that the drug companies will voluntarily come to the table because we share the same goal of actually making sure that people have access to lifesaving treatments," Young said. "They can't have access to them if they can't pay for them."
Morrissey said drug prices have always been a problem, and he's hopeful these negotiations will help his customers.
"At the end of the day, this is a brand new government process, so I don't think everything has been figured out as to how that whole process will go," Morrissey said. "As a picture big thing, if we can decrease Medicare's expenses for drugs, that's good for the collective. How that will actually play out with individual patients and their drugs, I don't think anyone really has the answers to that."
Drugs selected for price negotiations include many diabetes, heart failure and cancer medications such as Eliquis, Jardiance and Stelara. Morrissey said the drugs chosen don't surprise him, as they are all brand name, expensive and have a very high usage.
Over the next four years, the White House reports Medicare will negotiate the price of up to 60 prescription drugs. Young said the new prices will not be known until after negotiations take place.