USA- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has initiated the first phase of the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program by extending initial offers to participating drug companies for the negotiation of prices on the first 10 selected prescription drugs.

 This program, a result of the President’s Inflation Reduction Act, grants Medicare the authority to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, mirroring practices already established by federal agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra expressed confidence in the negotiation process, stating, “Today is another milestone on the march to ensure people with Medicare get fair prices for prescription drugs. I am confident that this process will lead to lower prices, putting an end to exorbitant price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.”

The negotiations, set to conclude by August 1, 2024, aim to address the soaring costs of prescription drugs in the United States.

 According to new research released by HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the U.S. pays nearly three times more for prescription drugs overall compared to 33 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Insulin prices, in particular, are almost ten times higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure highlighted the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act, stating, “Because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, in 2024, people with Medicare prescription drug coverage who have very high drug costs will have their costs capped for the first time ever.”

The ASPE also released reports detailing the expansion of the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, providing financial relief to Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in prescription drug coverage.

The report emphasizes the need for additional funding for community outreach and education to reach eligible individuals who have not yet enrolled in the Extra Help program.

HHS has launched LowerDrugCosts.gov, a comprehensive resource hub designed to inform Medicare beneficiaries about the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The website will feature plain-language materials, fact sheets, toolkits, and multimedia resources to help beneficiaries understand and access prescription drug savings.

As the Biden-Harris Administration continues its commitment to lowering healthcare costs, the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program represents a pivotal step towards ensuring affordable access to essential medications for millions of Americans.

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