Durbin Highlights Health Care Provisions In Inflation Reduction Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today took to the Senate floor to deliver a speech about health care provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that will save Medicare recipients thousands of dollars.  Durbin began his remarks by sharing the story of a 73-year-old Illinoisan who relies on an expensive medication to control his diabetes.

“Americans have paid the highest price in the world for prescription drugs… I have stories sent to me from time to time by people I represent – especially senior citizens – who tell me that these sky-high prescription drug prices force them to choose between essential medications and other basic necessities, like food and shelter.  Phillip is one of those stories… He’s 73 years old and a diabetic.  After several heart and back surgeries, he can’t work any longer,” Durbin began. “He takes several medications regularly… Do you know what a one-month prescription for Trulicity costs Phillip? $2,000.  So what does Phillip, who can’t work and has a fixed income, do?  He tries to cut the pills in half to try to make his prescriptions last longer.  Sometimes he skips medications altogether.”

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was passed without a single Republican vote in Congress, will assist seniors on Medicare in affording the cost of their prescriptions.  Durbin continued his speech by highlighting provisions in the IRA – allowing Medicare to negotiate medication prices; capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month and limiting seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for medications to $2,000 annually; and imposing penalties on drug companies that raise the prices of drugs faster than the rate of inflation.   

“The Inflation Reduction Act also is going to lower health care costs – one of the biggest items in every family’s budget. First, it begins to let Medicare negotiate fair prices for medications used by seniors… Is that a radical idea, that a federal agency, on behalf of the people it serves, negotiates for lower drug prices?  It's an idea that's been at work in the Veterans Administration (VA) for years.  Our VA, serving our veterans, men and women who serve this country, pays on average half of what Medicare pays for exactly the same drugs now, because VA could negotiate and Medicare could not,” Durbin explained. 

This approach to prescription cost management has enjoyed popular support.

“Second, the Inflation Reduction Act will cap the price Medicare recipients pay for insulin at $35 a month and limit seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for all medications to $2,000 a year.  Remember Phil?  Phil was paying $2,000 a month for Trulicity.  Under this bill, which we passed a month ago without a vote on the other side of the aisle, we're going to limit seniors' responsibility under Medicare for prescription drugs to $2,000 a year,” Durbin continued.

Durbin noted his support for capping the cost of insulin at $35 for every American, not just those enrolled in Medicare. 

“Third, the Inflation Reduction Act will curb the outrageous cost increases that Medicare beneficiaries pay for medications.  It does that by tying prescription drug price increases to the cost of living.  Pharmaceutical companies that raise their prices faster are going to pay a penalty if they do,” Durbin said.

Durbin went on to dismantle Republican talking points that argued that pharmaceutical companies would lose the profits used to develop new, cutting edge medical treatments. 

“Of course, the pharmaceutical giants and their lobbyists fought us every step of the way.  They said, ‘you put limits on the prices we can charge, and we're going to have to cut our research.’  Guess what they didn't tell you and what [my] colleagues on the other side of the aisle do not admit? It isn't true,” Durbin said.

“Studies have found that Big Pharma could lose $1 trillion in sales over the next decade, and it would still remain the most profitable industry in America.  By the way, did you know these pharmaceutical companies spend more money on advertising and marketing than they do on research?  Did you know that the research that they're using is based on research started at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the expense of American taxpayers?” Durbin argued.

Durbin also explained that even those not enrolled in Medicare could see a reduction in health care costs.

“More than 14 million Americans who receive their health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on their monthly insurance premiums because of the Inflation Reduction Act.  Under the American Rescue Plan, we lowered monthly premiums for middle-income families and those with ACA health plans.  TheInflation Reduction Act will continue this for another three years,” Durbin concluded.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.                                            

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.