POUGHKEEPSIE – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference at the MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie highlighting how provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will lower the cost of prescription drugs, keep down health insurance premiums, and make health care more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. Senator Gillibrand successfully co-led the effort to extend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expanded premium tax credits (PTCs) that were set to expire this year. The inclusion of these provisions in the IRA will save millions of Americans from losing their health care coverage. Gillibrand was joined by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett; Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of WMC Health Josh Ratner, CEO of RECAP Charlie Quinn; and Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region Melissa Clark.
“As the cost of food and other essentials has skyrocketed over the past several months, New Yorkers simply cannot afford to pay more for lifesaving prescription drugs or health insurance, or worse, to lose access to care entirely,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I led the fight in Congress to extend expanded Affordable Care Act subsidies and help ensure that millions of Americans can keep their health insurance. Today, I’m proud to be announcing that the Inflation Reduction Act will not only extend these subsidies, but also lower prescription drug costs, cap costs for older Americans, and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which will result in big savings for Medicare beneficiaries. This is a historic investment in working families and working people and a major step towards ensuring that health care remains accessible and affordable.”
“Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) supports and applauds Senator Gillibrand’s efforts taken to lower prescription drug costs and cap insulin costs for New Yorkers in need,” said Josh Ratner, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, WMCHealth. “Her efforts will expand healthcare coverage and increase access to vital prescription drugs for our patients as well as people across New York.”
Earlier this year, Gillibrand led the Senate coalition effort with Senator Shaheen to extend emergency provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that expanded the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) premium tax credits and made coverage through the marketplace more affordable for millions of Americans. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend these credits for the next three years for those buying their own health coverage on the ACA marketplaces. If the credits had been allowed to expire, an estimated 49,000 New Yorkers would have lost health insurance coverage. An additional 94,000 New Yorkers would have kept their marketplace coverage but been forced to pay higher premiums.
In addition to extending ACA tax credits, the Inflation Reduction Act will also:
1. Allow Medicare to begin negotiating directly for the price of prescription drugs in 2023 in order to ensure that patients with Medicare get the best deal possible on high-priced drugs.
2. Cap Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year: Today, there is no cap on the cost of prescription drugs that seniors and people with disabilities buy from pharmacies. The IRA caps Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 per year, ensuring that seniors and people with disabilities with serious health conditions do not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for individual drugs.
3. Provide free vaccines for seniors: This change makes most vaccines free for older adults and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare.
4. Cap monthly cost sharing for insulin to $35. More than 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries take one of the common forms of insulin.
5. Expand premium and co-pay assistance on prescription drugs for low-income individuals: The IRA expands the low-income subsidy program (LIS) under Medicare Part D to be fully available to seniors and people with disabilities earning less than 150% of the federal policy level.