(Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 11, 2020) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many older Americans and people with chronic diseases were foregoing their prescribed medications due to high out-of-pocket costs. The ongoing pandemic has only exacerbated prescription drug affordability concerns.
The Alliance for Aging Research (the “Alliance”), along with 48 partner organizations, is urging Congress to make two key reforms to Medicare Part D in future legislation.
The reforms were detailed in a letter sent from the Alliance-convened Project LOOP (Lowering Out-of-Pocket Costs) initiative. The letter asks Congressional leaders to address out-of-pocket (OOP) costs in Medicare Part D by placing a cap on beneficiaries’ expenses and providing the option to smooth them out over the course of a year. While the timing and content of the next relief package are still under consideration, health care affordability should be addressed in addition to priorities like education and jobless benefits.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made already high OOP costs even less affordable, especially for older Americans on fixed incomes and those living with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Before the pandemic, 1 in 5 adults age 60 and older reported struggling to afford their prescription drugs, and in many cases abandoned treatment altogether, leading to life-threatening consequences.
COVID-19 has intensified the burden of out-of-pocket costs for patients, further amplified by the accompanying economic downturn. Though Medicare covers necessary services in case of COVID-19 infection, patients are still responsible for copayments and deductibles.
Since 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research has served as a trusted source of health information for both consumers and health care professionals on diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect older people. The Alliance has led numerous successful advocacy campaigns promoting the health and independence of older adults. Learn more about the Alliance at www.agingresearch.org.