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How will Mainers benefit from Medicare negotiating prices for 10 drugs?

President Joe Biden has revealed a plan to lower the cost of some prescription drugs for seniors that includes drugs treating diabetes, cancer, and heart failure.

FALMOUTH, Maine — President Joe Biden has revealed a plan to lower the cost of 10 prescription drugs for seniors by allowing Medicare to negotiate the price with drug companies. 

The drugs include those that treat diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Dr. Karen Saylor works at Coastal Maine Direct Care in Falmouth. She said her patients sometimes have to choose between paying large amounts of money for important medications or not taking them at all.

“These are drugs that every drug in that class is similarly priced," Saylor told NEWS CENTER Maine. "They have very few options." 

Saylor said she has even stopped prescribing some medications to patients.

“It is prohibitively expensive, and I've never met a Medicare recipient who has it covered,” added Saylor.

But that might change. Some of those medications are among 10 drugs that could have their prices slashed in negotiations between the government and drug manufacturers, which was authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last year.

The effects of this change are expected to be wide-reaching in Maine

"In the first 10 drugs, there are thousands of Maine people that are already subscribing or using those drugs,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said. 

Medicare enrollees taking the medications here in the state paid out-of-pocket costs of up to nearly $5,000 in 2022.

“This is just fixing a mistake, I believe, that was in the law when it first passed to provide benefits to Medicare recipients because it prohibited, if you can believe it, the law prohibited Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies,” King said. 

Savings for the 10 drugs won’t come until 2026, but for Saylor's patients, she said it will be worth the wait.

“If this goes through, this will have a major impact on my patients and a trickle-down effect, I think, for other patients as well," Saylor said. 


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