How Sen. Kelly’s Plan — Now Law — to Lower Prescription Drug Costs Will Help Arizona Seniors

Recently, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly’s plan to lower prescription drug costs was signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. AARP Arizona and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans have applauded Kelly’s plan and his leadership on this issue as a member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. With over 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona, seniors across the state stand to benefit from Kelly’s plan. 

Here’s how Kelly’s plan will help Arizona seniors save money and stay healthy:

Affordable Insulin: A 2020 report estimated that 63,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona used insulin. Kelly’s plan will cap the cost of insulin to no more than $35 per month in Medicare Part D. Pharmaceutical companies have raised insulin prices so rapidly over the last decade that some seniors struggled to afford this life-saving medication that costs very little to manufacture. Starting in 2023, the Kelly-shaped Inflation Reduction Act will cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries at no more than $35 for a month’s supply. 

Caps Out-Of-Pocket Costs: Kelly’s plan will cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D recipients at no more than $2,000 a year and allow payments to be spread across the year starting in 2025. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries with health conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) or cancer can face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and can struggle to afford their medications since no limits exist on how much they may have to pay. This out-of-pocket cap will bring peace of mind to an estimated 32,000 Arizona Medicare beneficiaries whose out-of-pocket prescription drug costs exceeded $2,000. 

Allow Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices: For the first time, Kelly’s plan allows Medicare to negotiate the price of some of the most expensive prescription drugs. While the VA and private insurers are able to negotiate directly with drug companies to get lower prices, Medicare has never been able to use its buying power in this way. By allowing Medicare to negotiate on behalf of seniors in Arizona and across the country, Arizona seniors are in a better position to receive the medicine they need at a lower price. 

Holds Drug Companies Accountable: Kelly’s plan requires drug companies to pay Medicare a rebate if they increase drug prices on beneficiaries faster than inflation. That will results in billions more in savings for the federal government and will start to impact and lower out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, starting in 2023.

Keeps Arizonans Healthy: Currently, Medicare Part D beneficiaries must pay a portion of the cost for vaccines that protect seniors against diseases and viral infections like shingles. Starting in 2023, Kelly’s plan, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, will require no out-of-pocket cost-sharing for covered vaccines for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. In 2020, an estimated 88,000 Arizona Medicare beneficiaries received a Part D vaccine. This will ensure that cost is not a barrier to keeping Arizona seniors healthy.