It’s no secret that the high cost of healthcare and prescription drugs continue to break the bank for many Colorado families, often forcing them to choose between their health and putting food on the table. Thankfully, President Biden and many of our representatives in Congress have delivered on their promise to lower costs and improve care with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis over 20 years ago at the age of 26, and since then I’ve had to navigate our broken health care system and jump through hoops just to get the medication I need to be able to walk, use my hands, and take care of myself and my family. Prescription drug prices are totally out of control, and people with serious chronic conditions like mine are often left with no choice other than to shell out thousands of dollars just to get the care we need to go about our day-to-day lives.
After experiencing firsthand just how difficult it can be to get the medications and healthcare I need to treat my condition, I became an advocate for other patients with arthritis and other chronic conditions. I’ve heard story after story of patients whose health suffered because they couldn’t afford health care and medications. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which represents the most significant federal health care reform since the Affordable Care Act, I feel confident that our elected representatives are listening to our stories. This law is a testament to the advocates who have worked tirelessly to demand action on health care and the elected representatives who have made it a priority to make healthcare more affordable, accessible, and equitable for every American.
The health provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act are historic and life-altering for many who rely on expensive medications just to get through their day, particularly seniors with higher health care needs and fixed incomes.
Along with combating inflation and the climate crisis, the Inflation Reduction Act makes critical reforms to our health care system. For one, it drives down prescription drug costs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate prices – a huge win for Colorado’s 737,372 Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will also be capped at $2,000 per year for Medicare beneficiaries. In 2020, 18,725 Coloradans on Medicare experienced out-of-pocket costs over $2,000. For too long, Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Coloradans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries.
In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act stops Big Pharma from raising Medicare drug prices faster than the rate of inflation, caps the cost of insulin, and lowers health care premiums for millions by extending Affordable Care Act (ACA) financial assistance for three years.
While there have been major advancements in treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to other chronic conditions, newer medications are often more expensive or aren’t covered at all, pushing them out of reach for those who need them most. With the Inflation Reduction Act, more Americans will be able to take advantage of medical advancements to better care for their health.
Corporate interests and the pharmaceutical industry for too long have had a stranglehold over our Democracy, and wield their political power at the expense of the most vulnerable patients. And too often, members of congress put their own political interests over the health and financial wellbeing of their constituents and undermine access to care for women, seniors, and people with disabilities.
In Colorado, our elected representatives are breaking that mold. Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper were instrumental in negotiating with their colleagues and hammering out the details to ensure the bill passed the Senate. They fought despite odds stacked against them. And the majority of Colorado’s Representatives in Congress, including my Representative Jason Crow, were staunch supporters.
I’m proud to live in a state where my representatives fight for better access to health care so that we can lead happier, healthier lives. Colorado is leading the way in working hard to ensure access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and fighting to make it more affordable. Because of the efforts of our federal, state and local representatives, fewer Coloradans will have to let their health suffer simply because it’s too difficult and expensive to get the health care and medications they need.
Rebecca Gillet is a patient advocate and mother living in Centennial, CO.