Glen Taylor is simply wrong on health care savings

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Last year, one of my constituents, Bob Miller, told me a story that I will never forget.

Bob is a 71-year-old on Medicare who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), an unpredictable and debilitating disease that affects his central nervous system. For more than a decade, Bob relied on Betaseron to treat his MS flare-ups and prevent disease progression.

But over the years, Bob watched the cost of this life-sustaining drug skyrocket. By 2016, his out-of-pocket cost for Betaseron had risen to over $10,000 a year, and Bob was forced to stop taking the drug he relied on to manage his MS. Even with insurance, this drug was very expensive.

While Bob’s situation broke my heart, his story is no stranger to me. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world – and yet many Minnesotans are left wondering each month if they will be able to refill the prescriptions they rely on every day. That so many Minnesotans share this common struggle is unconscionable.

Earlier this month I was proud to play a role in making the Inflation Reduction Act a reality and ensuring that we are finally able to begin to address the cost of prescription drug costs. Starting next year, no one on Medicare will pay more than $35 a month for their insulin, seniors on Medicare will be able to get their vaccines at no cost, and drug companies will be required to reimburse taxpayers if their prescription drug costs rise faster than inflation. For the first time in history, Medicare will have the power to negotiate fair drug prices for certain drugs on behalf of seniors like Bob.

This bill will lower out-of-pocket prescription drug prices for millions of Americans. This is significant progress — and it finally requires Big Pharma to compete — something they already have to do when competing to serve our nation’s seniors.

I was dismayed to read Star Tribune owner Glen Taylor’s recent op-ed outlining his opposition to these landmark health care reforms (“Health Care Changes Will Hurt Too Many Americans,” August 21). So I thought I’d put the impact of this bill into perspective.

The Inflation Reduction Act will protect 820,000 Minnesotans on Medicare from Big Pharma price hikes by capping their pharmacy costs at $2,000 per year, save 85,000 Minnesotans hundreds of dollars in their health care premiums, and will give 87,000 Minnesota seniors free access to me. -on cost, cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for 47,000 Minnesotans on Medicare, expand the ACA tax credit to give 27,000 Minnesotans access to health insurance and allow 25,000 small business owners and self-employed adults in Minnesota access affordable health care coverage.

At the end of the day, this bill will give thousands of Minnesotans access to the medicine, care and insurance they need to live safe and healthy lives.

Furthermore, I want to remind Mr. Taylor that large employers, such as himself, and commercial insurers have a role to play in this fight. They possess a large amount of market power and a unique capacity to effectively push for price increases from pharmaceutical companies. Our bill gives Medicare the power to do what large employers and commercial insurers have been able to do for years — negotiate the price they pay for prescription drugs.

The Inflation Reduction Act was not hurriedly written overnight. It is a comprehensive, fiscally responsible bill that will improve the quality of life and lower the cost of living for thousands of Minnesotans. Of course, it’s not perfect. But looking at all we’ve accomplished this summer alone makes me more optimistic than ever that implementing additional life-saving reforms is within our reach.

My friend Bob from Prior Lake said it best when he said that the Inflation Reduction Act will bring him and thousands of Minnesotans “peace of mind” and the assurance that they will be able to afford their life-saving drugs and stable. This is a historic advance that cannot and should not be discounted.

Angie Craig, a Democrat, represents Minnesota’s Second District in the US House.

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