Mainers Celebrate First Step in Lowering Medicare Drug Prices

Hundreds of thousands of Mainers are expected to benefit from the Biden Administration’s recent announcement that it will begin drug price negotiations with Medicare. A list of 10 widely-used medicines, treating cancer, diabetes and other conditions, marks the start of a new program aimed at lowering what are some of the highest prescription drug prices in the world.

Noël Bonam, AARP Maine state director called it a monumental step forward.

“It will make a huge difference in the lives of Mainers not just in terms of their financial security but in terms of their general well-being because then they’re not having to make really tough choices,” Bonam said.

Bonam added those choices often include paying for doctor-prescribed medications or paying for heat or food. Pharmaceutical companies have vowed to sue the federal government to prevent it from lowering drug prices, claiming it will prevent future drug research and innovation.

Bonam said taxpayers will foot the bill for much of that research, and added Congress should allow Americans to purchase their medications from other countries, where prices are dramatically lower – including right across the border in Canada.

“When you can buy a cheap wicker chair from another country because it’s cheaper, why shouldn’t you be able to buy prescription drugs from another country? They’re a lot cheaper,” Bonam continued.

Over the next four years, Medicare will negotiate prices for up to 60 drugs covered under Medicare Part D and Part B, and up to an additional 20 drugs every year after that. Bonam encourages the Administration to keep going, and add more to the list, as 60% of adults report not taking their medicine as prescribed due to cost. Medicare recipients take, on average, four or more medications a day.

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