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Build Back Better addresses drug prices, but biggest savings might take years to reach Americans

Legislation may get vote before Christmas
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Posted at 3:33 PM, Dec 10, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A quarter of older Americans says it's difficult to pay for prescription medications.

One reason, according to AARP, is the price has increased dramatically over the last decade.

From 2006 to 2020, according to their analysis, prices for 65 brand-name drugs increased by approximately 276%.


“We can all agree prescription drugs are expensive in this country,” President Joe Biden said at a White House event on the issue earlier this week.

Biden is hoping his Build Back Better plan gets passed in Congress to address the issue.

One big change involves the possibility of price negotiation.

Currently, Medicare officials cannot negotiate drug prices for their beneficiaries.

However, the Build Back Better plan, which may be voted on by Christmas in the Senate, would allow for some price negotiation.

Democrats believe that will lower the cost of prescriptions for Americans.


However, the savings will take time to reach Americans

The president’s big plan only allows for 10 drugs to initially be negotiated.

The first negotiations wouldn’t take place until 2025.

Newly-launched drugs would not be eligible for negotiation and lower prices.

President Biden’s plan also calls for out-of-pocket drug costs to be capped at $2,000 for those on Medicare Part D.

However, those savings wouldn’t kick until 2024, according to the latest text of the bill.


Could this big change by Congress have a negative impact on science?

Ed Haislmaier thinks so. Haislmaier is a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“It could limit research,” Haislmaier said.

He argues the threat of lower profits for drugs companies could limit research and the development of newer, more effective drugs for older Americans.

“Whenever you're doing work in this area, you are taking a big risk," he added. "You have to have the potential of a big payoff."

For the millions of Americans struggling to pay the bills any relief is welcomed.