Millions of seniors depend on their Medicare coverage for affordable access to prescription medicines. Yet, policymakers are considering a number of changes to the Medicare programs that would impact seniors’ access to care. While some changes would lower their out-of-pocket costs, others would restrict access to medicines. Any changes to seniors’ Medicare coverage should be for beneficiaries’ benefit – not to their detriment.
Unfortunately, some proposals would put seniors’ Medicare benefits in jeopardy. These changes aim to constrain costs for the government but come at the expense of seniors’ access to the medicines and care they need.
For example, some in Washington have centered on the misguided idea of international reference pricing, a mechanism that enables the government to set medicine prices. Under international reference pricing, U.S. bureaucrats could determine the value of our medicines based on how foreign governments and politicians value these treatments and cures.
Not only does international reference pricing allow foreign politicians to decide what your medicines are worth and what diseases are worth investing in, but it lets policies set by foreign politicians influence how our government makes decisions for American patients. Research shows that every time other countries have set prices for medicines it has resulted in restrictions in access. This is the wrong approach for America’s seniors.
Instead of considering proposals that put patients in harm’s way, we must support proposals focused on improving seniors’ access and affordability to lifesaving medicines through Medicare. One way to do this is to ensure that the saving Medicare Part D plans currently negotiate with biopharmaceutical companies are passed through to beneficiaries at the pharmacy counter. Seniors share the cost with insurance companies, middlemen and the government, so they should also share the savings.
Policymakers should implement Medicare changes that benefit seniors, ensuring access to innovative treatments and improving affordability and predictability. To learn more about potential changes to Medicare and their impact on senior health care visit phrma.org/advocacy/medicare.