President Biden on Tuesday celebrated recent prescription drug reforms, proclaiming that Democrats had finally delivered an elusive win against Big Pharma.
Speaking on the White House Rose Garden, Biden praised the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in early August, as “one of the most significant laws in our history.”
The sweeping bill included provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for the first time in its history and also placed caps on the cost of certain medications, though this too applied largely to seniors on Medicare.
During his speech, Biden called out Republicans in Congress for not supporting the provisions in the bill aimed at lowering health care costs.
“I wish I could say the Republicans supported this progress and reducing health care costs and strengthening Medicare. That would be good for all of America, but [they] had a very different idea,” he said.
“Every single Republican voted against the Inflation Reduction Act. When it actually came time to do something about inflation around the kitchen table, every one of them said no.”
Biden referred to the signing of the bill as the fulfillment of a promise to the American people that has gone unanswered for decades.
“We pay more for prescription drugs than any other advanced nation in the world and there’s no good reason for it. For years, many of have been trying to fix this problem, but for years Big Pharma has stood in the way. Not this year,” Biden said.
“This year, the American people won and Big Pharma lost.”
Biden also noted that Medicare premiums would be going down for the first time in more than 10 years, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced earlier on Tuesday.
“Millions of seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare, that means more money in their pockets while still getting the care they need,” he said.
In 2023, monthly Medicare premiums will drop from $170.10 to $164.90, marking a 3 percent drop in costs, or $5.20 a month. This follows a report earlier this year that found the cost of including a new Alzheimer’s medication in Medicare had been overestimated after the price of the drug was halved. In 2022, Medicare premiums saw one of the biggest jumps in the program’s history, rising by 14.5 percent.
Biden lauded the $35 cap on insulin for Medicare beneficiaries that was included in the Inflation Reduction Act, but bemoaned that it was not applied to everyone in the U.S.
“Now we want that to be the case for everybody, for everybody to have a peace of mind. [We] wanted to cut the cost of insulin for everyone including hundreds of thousands of children with type 1 diabetes. But unfortunately, we had that in the bill. The Republicans were able to get the votes to strike that out of the bill,” Biden said.
Biden also condemned the 12-point plan released by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, earlier this year, citing it as an example of the threat the GOP poses against programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Scott’s proposed plan includes a rule that would automatically make all federal legislation “sunset,” or no longer be in effect, after five years unless Congress approves its continuation.
“What do you think they’re going to do when the House budget committee started talking about the cost of Medicare and Social Security and why we can’t afford it?” Biden said, warning these programs could be reduced or eliminated entirely under Scott’s plan.