Rising costs are weighing on everyone’s minds. Coloradans like me are being stretched thin with everyday costs that continue to rise. Most importantly, the cost of health care has gone from prohibitive to unbearable. Many families are being forced to make the difficult decision between putting food on the table or keeping the lights on and buying the critical medicine they need to stay alive.
Roughly half of American adults report putting off or skipping some type of care in the past year because of cost, and 53% of Coloradans are worried about being able to afford the prescriptions they rely on. In the richest nation on earth, no one should have to choose between keeping a roof over their head and affording the health care or prescription drugs they need to stay healthy and stay alive.
As someone who has been a type 1 diabetic for over 50 years, I know firsthand the stress and anxiety caused by the ever-increasing costs of prescription drugs. I know what it’s like to decide whether to pay your bills or buy your medicine. The seriousness of this only increases when you have children whose needs come first.
Thankfully, the tides are turning. Colorado’s representatives in Congress, including US Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, just passed the historic Inflation Reduction Act that will lower health care costs for millions.
The Inflation Reduction Act, backed by President Joe Biden and Democrats, would lower health care premiums by extending the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) financial assistance for three years, lowering prescription drug prices for millions of people as me and protecting Coloradans on Medicare from Big Pharma. excessive price increases.
Thanks to this legislation, families will save thousands on their health care premiums. Last year, many of us who buy insurance on our own saw our health care premiums drop after Democrats in Congress passed legislation guaranteeing coverage that costs less than 8.5% of income. These American Savings Plan tax credits allowed millions of enrollees to find a quality plan for $10 or less a month and saved families an average of $2,400 a year in our insurance premiums.
These premium savings helped drive record enrollment in 2021: more than 14.5 million Americans bought health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces – an all-time high for the country. In Colorado alone, 197,516 enrolled in quality coverage. The Inflation Reduction Act avoids large premium increases by extending these tax credits so that nearly 13 million people, or 89% with an ACA plan, can continue to receive extended tax credits, making their coverage affordable and accessible.
The Inflation Reduction Act also finally curbs Big Pharma’s greed and lowers drug prices for millions. While drug companies continue to raise prices year after year, Coloradans still pay 65% more for their prescription drugs than people elsewhere. Thankfully in Colorado, we passed Senate Bill 21-175 to create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help contain the costs of the most unaffordable drugs.
Now, thanks to Democratic legislation, we’ll end the status quo by giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices nationally and limit seniors’ out-of-pocket costs. That means people who are burdened heavily by inflationary drug costs, such as senior citizens, will no longer need to ration their medications. Once Medicare starts negotiating those prescription prices, it stands to reason that the rest of us will have similar relief in the prescription window.
Unfortunately, a provision that I personally advocated for that made it through the Senate to cap the payment for insulin at $35 was removed by the Republicans. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and nearly 7% of Coloradans live with the condition. Insulin costs continue to rise as drug companies continue to earn ever greater profits; this is really a slap in the face for patients like me.
Despite hundreds of millions spent by the pharmaceutical lobby, Democrats were able to pass legislation that would reduce the costs of other life-saving drugs. This is exactly the kind of legislation that voters across the political spectrum have been asking for. It’s time to include insulin so that everyone who needs it can afford it.
Overall, the Inflation Reduction Act will help level the playing field for working families in Colorado and provide more affordable care for Americans from all walks of life, including older adults, people with disabilities limited, people in rural communities, people of color and patients like. me.
Gail deVore has had type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years and has volunteered for decades to educate and advocate on behalf of diabetics in Colorado and the U.S. She was involved in the recent passage of an insulin payment cap and insulin pricing legislation in Colorado.