Washington, DC – July 18, 2023
Officials from the White House and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened a roundtable at the White House with prominent pharmacy chain and association leaders on Tuesday. The objective was to discuss collaborative efforts to build on the progress achieved under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The goal is to further reduce the cost of prescription drugs and raise awareness among consumers about the benefits of the law.
U.S. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Director of the Domestic Policy Council of the United States Neera Tanden, and Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chiquita Brooks-LaSure led the discussions with the pharmacy leaders. The roundtable marked a continuation of a meeting Secretary Becerra had with pharmacy leaders in March 2022.
The officials began the event by expressing gratitude to pharmacy leaders for their efforts in acquainting customers with the Inflation Reduction Act, which is hailed as President Biden’s landmark legislation aimed at lowering prescription drug costs. The participants focused on strategies to optimize and share resources to ensure that individuals who stand to benefit from the law are informed about how the Inflation Reduction Act can lead to reduced prescription drug expenses.
Among the key topics discussed during the roundtable was the Extra Help program. This program assists low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities in covering the costs of premiums and prescription medications. Shockingly, it was noted that up to three million Americans are potentially eligible for the Extra Help program but have not yet enrolled.
To prepare for the meeting, Secretary Becerra, Director Tanden, and Administrator Brooks-LaSure had issued a letter to national pharmacies and pharmacy associations, urging them to play a more significant role in educating their customers and communities about the new prescription drug benefits offered by the Inflation Reduction Act. The letter specifically encouraged pharmacies to promote these benefits by incorporating educational material at their physical locations, on websites, and through social media channels. The letter also suggested collaborating with community organizations, participating in public education campaigns, identifying potential beneficiaries, and training staff to address questions about the new law.
Furthermore, the letter emphasized the role of pharmacies and pharmacy associates in communicating with Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees about updating their contact information with their respective state Medicaid and CHIP agencies. The aim is to ensure a smooth Medicaid coverage renewal process and avoid eligible beneficiaries experiencing unnecessary loss of coverage.
The Biden-Harris Administration has already taken steps to alleviate costs for Americans, including providing millions of Medicare enrollees with free recommended vaccinations and capping the cost of each covered insulin product at $35 for a month’s supply. A recent report by HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) projected that the changes introduced by the Inflation Reduction Act to the Medicare Part D program could potentially reduce out-of-pocket spending by almost $400 for over 18.7 million enrollees when fully implemented in 2025. This translates to about one in three people with Medicare Part D. The report further indicated that nearly 1.9 million enrollees are projected to save at least $1,000 in 2025.
Throughout the roundtable, a strong emphasis was placed on educating consumers about the new Medicare prescription drug benefits and guiding them through the Medicaid coverage renewal process. Secretary Becerra, Director Tanden, and Administrator Brooks-LaSure expressed their appreciation for the active efforts undertaken by pharmacies to raise awareness among Medicare beneficiaries about these beneficial changes. HHS has a proven track record of partnering with pharmacies on various issues, and the administration is determined to foster further growth in this collaborative relationship over time.
Apart from Secretary Becerra, Director Tanden, and Administrator Brooks-LaSure, representatives from major organizations such as CVS Health Corporation, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, Walmart, Inc., American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, National Community Pharmacists Association, and National Association of Chain Drug Stores were present at the roundtable.