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Biden to talk about lowering drug costs at UNLV event

Updated March 15, 2023 - 2:04 am

President Joe Biden is expected to speak at the UNLV College of Hospitality on Wednesday about his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs for Americans.

Biden, who landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening and attended a private Democratic National Committee reception and fundraiser, is scheduled to address provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that will help lower costs for people on Medicare, and how his proposed budget will lower prescription drugs costs for all Americans.

Citizens in the United States pay two to three times more for prescription drugs than citizens in other developed countries, said Susan Rice, the White House Domestic Policy adviser, in a Tuesday media call previewing Biden’s visit to Las Vegas.

“That’s why since day one President Biden has been committed to lowering health care costs and expanding benefits for all Americans,” Rice said. “And he’s done just that with the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Last week Biden released his $6.8 trillion fiscal year 2024 budget — which has drawn much criticism from Republicans — that proposes expanding the requirement for drug manufacturers to pay rebates if they raise drug prices faster than the rate of inflation in the commercial market.

His budget also proposes capping the price of insulin at $35 per month for everyone and expanding Medicare’s negotiation authority to increase the number of drugs that are selected sooner after they launch, according to the White House.

Ahead of Biden’s speech at UNLV, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report that shows the savings Medicare recipients will see now that the out-of-pocket costs for vaccines covered under Medicare’s prescription drug plan called “Part D” have been eliminated.

About 3.4 million people, or about 7 percent of the people on Medicare, received a vaccine covered under Part D in 2021 and paid a total of $234 million in out-of-pocket costs, the report found.

“Today, they would pay $0 as a result of the president’s new lower prescription drug law,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of Health and Human Services.

Almost 24,000 Nevadans were enrolled in Medicare Part D as of 2021 and would have their vaccines covered. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Nevadans will save about $1.8 million in out-of-pocket costs, according to a fact sheet from the White House.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also released Wednesday a list of 27 drugs that may be cheaper for some people with Medicare as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act, said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Starting in April, some people may pay less for certain drugs, and by the end of 2024, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin sending invoices to drug companies, Brooks-LaSure said.

“The Medicare prescription drug inflation rebate program is strengthening Medicare by making prescription drugs affordable for millions of people and discouraging drug companies from increasing prices faster than inflation,” Brooks-LaSure said.

Critics of the president’s approach to lowering drug prices say the limitations will result in fewer innovative drugs being developed by pharmaceutical companies, as the often-expensive process of research and trials would become prohibitively expensive if drug prices are capped.

Expect traffic to be disrupted during Biden’s UNLV event. Maryland Parkway from Tropicana Avenue to Russell Road as well as the airport connector are expected to close between 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Biden was originally expected to sign a designation of Avi Kwa Ame national monument on his Las Vegas visit, but that event was postponed. The president has declared he will sign the designation, however.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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