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Last year a constituent of mine, Bob Miller, told me a story that I will never forget.
Bob is a 71-year-old man on Medicare who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), an unpredictable and debilitating disease that affects his central nervous system. For over a decade Bob has relied on Betaseron to treat his MS relapses and prevent the progression of the disease.
But over the years, Bob has seen the cost of this life-saving drug skyrocket. By 2016, his outlay for Betaseron had jumped to over $10,000 a year and Bob was forced to stop taking the drug he relied on to manage his MS. Even with insurance, this drug was too expensive.
Although Bob’s situation broke my heart, his story is not unknown to me. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world – and yet many Minnesotans wonder every month if they’ll be able to refill the prescriptions they rely on every day. The fact that so many Minnesotans share this common struggle is unconscionable.
Earlier this month, I was proud to play a part in bringing the Cut Inflation Act to fruition and ensuring that we are finally able to start tackling the cost of prescription drugs. . Starting next year, no one on Medicare will pay more than $35 a month for their insulin, seniors on Medicare will be able to access their vaccines for free, and pharmaceutical companies will be required to reimburse taxpayers if their drug costs prescription increase faster than inflation. For the first time in history, Medicare will have the power to negotiate fair prices for certain drugs on behalf of seniors like Bob.
This bill will reduce prescription drug prices for millions of Americans. It’s significant progress – and finally asks Big Pharma to compete – something they should already have to do when competing to serve our nation’s seniors.
I was disheartened to read Star Tribune owner Glen Taylor’s recent commentary outlining his opposition to these historic health care reforms (“Health Care Changes Will Hurt Many Americans,” Aug. 21). So I thought I would put the impact of this bill into perspective.
Cut Inflation Act will protect 820,000 Minnesotans on Medicare from Big Pharma price hikes by capping their pharmacy fees at $2,000 a year, save 85,000 Minnesotans hundreds of dollars on their healthcare premiums healthcare, will give 87,000 Minnesota seniors on Medicare the ability to access their vaccines for free – from the cost, cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month for 47,000 Minnesotans with Medicare, expand credits for ACA tax to give 27,000 Minnesotans the ability to access health insurance and enable 25,000 small business owners and self-employed adults in Minnesota to access affordable health coverage.
Ultimately, this bill will give thousands of Minnesotans access to the medicines, care and insurance they need to live safe and healthy lives.
Furthermore, I would like to remind Mr. Taylor that large employers, like himself, and commercial insurers have a role to play in this fight. They possess enormous market power and a unique ability to effectively repel price increases from pharmaceutical companies. Our bill gives Medicare the power to do what large employers and commercial insurers have been able to do for years: negotiate the price they pay for prescription drugs.
The Inflation Reduction Act was not hastily drafted overnight. This is a comprehensive and fiscally responsible bill that will improve the quality of life and lower the cost of living for thousands of Minnesotans. Of course, it’s not perfect. But seeing how much we have accomplished this summer makes me more optimistic than ever that enacting vital new reforms is within reach.
My friend Bob from Prior Lake said it best when he said the Cut Inflation Act would give him and thousands of Minnesotans “peace of mind” and assurance that ‘they will be able to afford their life-saving and life-saving medicines. This is historic progress that cannot and should not be ignored.
Angie Craig, a Democrat, represents Minnesota’s Second District in the United States House.