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“Let me give you an example: Sue Bird and her husband Tom. They live in rural Nevada in Fernley, Nevada. Tom has diabetes, and even though they are both on Medicare, covering all their health care expenses costs them nearly $1,000 a month… So, why are Tom and Sue’s medication so expensive? Year after year, Big Pharma has decided that they need to jack up prescription drug prices, all while their executives are raking in millions of dollars in profits.”
“And we really have a duty to ensure quality, affordable health care for people like Tom and Sue and seniors across the country when they retire.”
Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the Senate floor about how the Inflation Reduction Act is lowering drug costs for Nevada seniors, highlighting the stories of two Nevada seniors who will save on their health care costs now that Medicare has the power to negotiate prescription drug prices. Recently, President Biden announced the first ten drugs selected for Medicare drug price negotiation, a new program to bring down the cost of expensive prescription drugs that treat diabetes, heart failure, blood clots, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and more.
The Inflation Reduction Act has also capped the price of insulin at $35 per month, limited increases in Medicare Part D premiums, capped annual out-of-pocket costs, and
Below are her remarks as delivered:
Mr. President. There are over 578,000 Nevadans across my state enrolled in Medicare, and their hard-earned Medicare benefits provide coverage for their health care expenses.
The problem is, when I travel around my state and I speak to seniors, the number one thing that I hear about is how difficult it is to afford the prescription drugs that they need.
Let me give you an example: Sue Bird and her husband Tom. They live in rural Nevada in Fernley, Nevada.
Tom has diabetes, and even though they are both on Medicare, covering all their health care expenses costs them nearly $1,000 a month. That can be crushing for two retirees on a fixed income.
The stress of Tom’s diabetes alone affects his blood sugar. Add in the worry over the price of their medication, their dental and vision, and other health care costs, and it becomes almost too much to handle for them.
So, why are Tom and Sue’s medication so expensive? I’ll tell you why. And you’ve heard it from my colleagues over and over this afternoon. Year after year, Big Pharma has decided that they need to jack up prescription drug prices, all while their executives are raking in millions of dollars in profits.
As pharmaceutical companies are driving higher prices, they’re forcing millions of older Americans to pay more in premiums and out of pocket costs.
You know, our seniors made this country what it is today. Tom is a fourth generation Nevadan.
And we really have a duty to ensure quality, affordable health care for people like Tom and Sue and seniors across the country when they retire.
That is exactly what Democrats did when we passed the Inflation Reduction Act. We kept the cost of insulin at $35 per month for people with Medicare. We made vaccines free to seniors. And we’re holding drug companies accountable for raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation.
And now you’re hearing a major victory that’s been decades in the making, we finally gave Medicare the green light to negotiate lower prescription drug prices directly with Big Pharma.
This is going to make a huge difference for Nevadans and for Americans across the country.
The Biden administration just selected the first 10 drugs for price negotiation under Medicare Part D. These are widely used medications.
About 10 million people with Medicare take one or more of these drugs each year to treat serious conditions like diabetes, heart failure, blood clots, and cancer. And they are extremely expensive.
Medicare enrollees taking any of these 10 medications paid a total of $3.4 billion out of pocket in 2022.
For his diabetes, Tom Bird takes Jardiance – one of 10 drugs on the list. This month, he paid about $466 for it.
Now, these 10 drugs cost Medicare over $50 billion last year alone. That is outrageous!
And think of where that money is going. Think about where it’s going. How much money is enough for these Big Pharma companies?
But you know what, the fact that Democrats fought to ensure that Medicare can negotiate directly with drug companies is going to change all that.
It’ll give seniors a fair deal. It’ll lower health care costs. And it’ll also cut back on federal spending by $25 billion. That’s $25 billion we’re saving taxpayers across the country. And this is just the beginning.
Each year, more medications will be added to the negotiation list, allowing Medicare to keep bringing down prescription drug costs, and saving more taxpayer dollars.
And I’ll tell you what, our seniors across this country like Tom and Sue, who helped build our country and make it what it is today, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
And this is all thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which continues to benefit Nevadans and Americans throughout our country.
Listen, I am proud of the work that we all did when we passed this legislation.
I’m proud of the Biden-Harris Administration for not only supporting the passage of it and working to get this done, but also [working on] the implementation.
I can tell you that I know, my colleagues and I, that we’re going to keep working to ensure that Nevada seniors, and seniors across this country, see lower health care costs.
Because every senior should be able to retire with dignity. They’ve worked for it. They’ve worked hard to make that happen. And we should at least make sure that we are lowering those costs to help them.
So Mr. President, I thank you and I yield the floor.