The Inflation Reduction Act and how it relates to medication costs

Consumers won’t see reduced medication expenses for years down the road.
The act will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices, but it's only for 10 prescription drugs and any lower cost negotiated won’t take effect until 2026.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 12:52 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Take a look around Keith Coe’s kitchen and even he acknowledges it looks like a pharmacy. “This is for your heart and your cardio,” Coe told his wife as he showed On Your Side all of her medications. “All these bottles here is why she literally needs a case.”

But the out-of-pocket costs for medication that he and his wife Lisa require is breaking the bank. “I’m left with the feeling of how dare this country put this much impact on its seniors,” Coe said, frustrated. However, President Biden’s heavily touted Inflation Reduction Act is meant to help seniors like Keith and Lisa by lowering medication costs.

For example, starting next year it will cap insulin at $35 a month. Keith and Lisa currently pay $1,000 a month. “It’s exciting to read every time I see that number,” Keith said. After that, the Inflation Reduction Act begins to lose its shine. For example, the act will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices. However, that’s only for 10 prescription drugs and any lower cost negotiated won’t take effect until 2026 which is four years from now.

It will only expand to only 60 drugs by 2029, and Coe wonders if Lisa’s drugs will even make the list. “She’s (Lisa) a heart disease survivor. She had a stroke, and she has diabetes,” he said. The Act is also intended to cap “out of pocket” medication costs at $2,000 a year for seniors, but that won’t kick in until 2025.

In the meantime, seniors like the Coe’s will have to struggle to pay for meds until that time. “The pharmaceutical companies are circling the wagons,” Coe said. ”They’re ready to fight back. They’re circling the wagons and ready for a fight.”

For now, the Gilbert couple is trying everything they can to stretch their meds month to month. “If you can’t pay it, you can’t take it. So, when you do get it, I take less of it,” Coe said. “Rationing. Make a little it go a long way.”

Arizona’s Family reporter Susan Campbell was at the nation’s capital on Tuesday for the signing of the act.