July 28, 2023

Retirees Concerned on Eve of Medicare’s 58th Anniversary

Washington, DC – Members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are marking the anniversary of Medicare and urging older Americans to be vigilant and ready to fight any attempts to raise the eligibility age or cut their earned health care benefits.

“We should be building on what Medicare has accomplished over 58 years, not cutting it,” said Alliance Executive Director Richard Fiesta. “Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, people with Medicare are paying lower prices for insulin and all recommended vaccines are now free. The Inflation Reduction Act’s great achievement of requiring Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some of the most expensive drugs will be a relief to older Americans across the country.”

“Alliance members are determined to defend Medicare’s guaranteed health benefits and the landmark Inflation Reduction Act,” Fiesta continued. “They are also paying close attention to what their representatives and senators are saying about Medicare and drug prices.”

Before Medicare, only half of the nation’s seniors had health insurance. When uninsured seniors had serious health problems, they and their families faced an impossible dilemma: risk their financial health by seeking care, or avoid treatment and watch their physical health deteriorate. Thanks to Medicare, 56.6 million Americans aged 65 and older now have guaranteed health coverage.

Medicare’s benefits have been expanded over the years to include doctors’ visits and prescription drugs. The most recent change was the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which as it is implemented will cap out of pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries; prohibit drug corporations from increasing the price it charges Medicare for a drug by more than the rate of inflation; and cap out of pocket drug spending at $2,000 per year for Medicare Part D.

The IRA also requires Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some of the highest priced prescription drugs, using its enormous purchasing power on behalf of seniors and taxpayers. The Alliance, health advocates, and consumer organizations have noted that negotiating a fair price for drugs is nothing new and is a hallmark of a free market economy — governments and insurance companies around the world negotiate drug prices on behalf of their citizens every day. In the United States, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the Medicaid program already negotiate prices.

Pharmaceutical companies, among the most profitable firms in the country, reported approximately $128 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2023. However, Medicare’s 58th anniversary comes as Pharma, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Astellas Pharma and Johnson & Johnson are all suing to stop Medicare’s authority to negotiate lower drug prices and block portions of the IRA that strengthen Medicare and save taxpayers and patients billions of dollars.

Further threatening Medicare on its 58th birthday is the U.S. House Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) budget plan, which includes devastating cuts and changes to Medicare, including privatization. The RSC budget also repeals key portions of the Inflation Reduction Act that lower drug prices, including requiring drug corporations to negotiate with Medicare.


Contact: David Blank, dblank@retiredamericans.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *