Congress offers much-needed relief on prescription costs

U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez

As a cancer survivor, I know how crucial life-saving medicine can be for New Mexicans struggling to regain their health. Since COVID, we’ve seen drug prices skyrocket to fill CEOs’ wallets as my constituents pulled food out of their baskets. It is shameful that big business and its CEOs reaped record profits while New Mexican workers footed the bill.

As your representative, my job is to stand up for New Mexicans, whether it’s helping wildfire communities recover, preserving access to health care for veterans, or advocate for the special interests of corporations that profit from people’s pain. Literally.

The pharmaceutical industry has had a monopoly on artificially inflating prescription drug prices without any checks on its power – until now.

In Congress, we passed legislation to save the economy post-COVID, rebuild our infrastructure, and fix our supply chain issues. But holding big pharma accountable and lowering health care costs for families is one of our greatest accomplishments.

For more than a decade, pharmaceutical companies have raised the prices of lifesaving drugs faster than inflation to keep profits at sky-high levels, even as more patients are forced to ration drugs or s indebted to pay for their medication. Between July 2021 and July 2022, pharmaceutical companies increased list prices of more than 1,200 prescription drugs by an average of 31.6%.

Big pharma takes advantage of those who need it most. This broken system of greed made pharmaceutical companies the most profitable industry in the United States between 2011 and 2019. Seniors, families, New Mexican workers and taxpayers pay more than twice as much for the same drugs. than people in most other countries. Yet most drugs on the US market are developed through taxpayer-funded research.

Their army of lobbyists and political donations have prevented Congress from offering lower drug prices than people can afford and holding drug companies accountable.

So far.

This summer, Congress passed the Reducing Inflation Act, a landmark law that will lower drug prices and make health care more affordable for millions of people across the country and here in New Mexico.

The new law allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for some of the program’s costliest drugs and prevents drug companies from raising prices faster than the rate of inflation.

In addition, it establishes the first-ever cap on reimbursable prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D for more than 300,000 Medicare enrollees in New Mexico. Finally, it will also save more than 40,000 New Mexicans hundreds of dollars a year on health insurance premiums, while extending affordable coverage to an additional 10,000 New Mexicans.

The Inflation Reduction Act will finally bring long-awaited peace of mind to millions of people. No one – regardless of where they live, age or income – should be forced to go without the basic medicines they need, or have to choose between medicine and food or rent.

Republican leaders opposed these common-sense reforms, and extremists even introduced a bill to end them altogether. We cannot let this happen. I won’t stop until every New Mexican has access to the affordable health care and prescription drugs they need. Let’s keep the money in the pockets of hard-working New Mexicans, not in the bank accounts of the wealthiest CEOs.

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