Inflation Reduction Act lives up to its name when it comes to prescription medicine

October 26, 2022 6:00 am

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

It is no secret that right now things cost more than they used to. Rising costs are weighing on everyone’s minds. From the gas pump to the grocery store to the pharmacy, Americans are being stretched too thin. While a lot of attention is focused on rising commodity prices, one place where costs have been skyrocketing that’s not getting as much attention is prescription drug prices. 

When I became a Medicare member in 2014, a three-month supply of Humira, which controls my psoriasis, cost more than $1,400 after insurance. By February of 2021, the prescription’s price had increased by 245%. My share increased to $3,060. And that’s only one prescription. All told I spend about 7% of my union pension on prescription drug costs alone. 

Americans pay more for health care than anyone in the world, with the average family spending thousands of dollars on their annual health needs. But the tides are changing as President Biden and Democrats just passed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, which will deliver health care savings to millions and put working families first.

The bill’s measures to lower health care premiums and drive down drug prices are going to make a world of a difference for people like me, but also for countless working families, seniors, people with disabilities and communities of color. That’s why I recently joined Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour in St. Paul to celebrate lower health care costs and explain to Minnesotans how they can access these new savings. 

The Inflation Reduction Act includes the most significant expansion of affordable health care in more than a decade. This legislation lowers premium costs for 13 million Americans who purchase coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, including over 70,000 in Minnesota. The new law also takes on the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs.

Right now Minnesotans spend nearly $5.9 billion on prescription drugs annually, and about 46% of Minnesotans struggled financially due to the high costs of health care in 2019 alone. Data also shows that around 21% of Minnesotans have stopped or skipped taking medication due to cost and 45% are concerned about the rising price of drugs. 

The Inflation Reduction Act helps address this by giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices; limiting the cost of insulin to $35 a month for people on Medicare; and capping out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors. This means that 47,000 Minnesotans will have lower insulin costs, and many more will save on their other prescription drugs. 

Biden and congressional Democrats worked tirelessly to pass this historic bill and got the job done, successfully standing up to the big pharmaceutical companies and other special interests. 

For too long, egregious drug prices set and controlled by Big Pharma have forced millions of Americans to make tough decisions every day: Choosing between paying the bills or affording the drugs they need to survive.

Congress delivered health care savings to the American people by reducing costs and combatting inflation, saving families thousands of dollars a year and giving people breathing room to pay for other necessities like food, child care and rent.

The Inflation Reduction Act helps level the playing field for working families in Minnesota and delivers affordable care to Americans from all walks of life. This legislation is the biggest step towards equitable health care coverage since the ACA. Health care is guaranteed for years to come for people like me thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.

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Kenneth McInnis
Kenneth McInnis

Ken McInnis is president of the Minnesota State Retiree Council of the AFL-CIO. He lives in Ham Lake, Minnesota.