Readout of HHS Inflation Reduction Act Roundtable with Health Care and Consumer Advocacy Organizations
HHS hosts discussion on how health care organizations and patient advocates can work together with the Biden-Harris Administration to educate consumers about the benefits of the President’s lower cost prescription drug law.
On Tuesday, October 24, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, Chief of Staff to the Secretary Sean McCluskie, Counselor to the Secretary Stacy Sanders, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Chief of Staff Erin Richardson held a roundtable with health care and consumer advocacy organizations to discuss how these groups can work together with the Biden-Harris Administration to educate consumers about the new Medicare prescription drug benefits under the Inflation Reduction Act, and how they can amplify this education during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period, which began on October 15 and runs through December 7.
Secretary Becerra opened the event by thanking the health care advocates who are working to educate consumers about how to access the new benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act – President Biden’s historic lower cost prescription drug law. The participants discussed their plans to help make people with Medicare and their families aware of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period and to ensure that people who benefit from the law know how the Inflation Reduction Act can help lower their prescription drug costs now and in the future. Secretary Becerra underscored the importance of the groups’ efforts to engage seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare to ensure that they take advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s benefits now, such as receiving recommended preventive adult vaccines at no cost and capping the cost of each covered insulin at $35 per month for those with Part D coverage.
The participants discussed their fall outreach plans, as well as challenges they see in educating consumers about the law’s benefits. Specifically, participants mentioned issues with language access and the need to prioritize low-income seniors and those with limited English proficiency. HHS leaders discussed ways to tackle those challenges, and highlighted new benefits taking effect in 2024, such as eliminating cost-sharing for people with Medicare prescription drug coverage who fall into the catastrophic phase of the drug benefit. Additionally, the participants discussed the Extra Help program, which provides financial help to individuals with low incomes who have Medicare Part D coverage. In 2024, the Extra Help program will be expanded, making full benefits, meaning no premium, no deductible, and fixed copayments for select drugs, available to certain people with Medicare with limited resources.
HHS leaders and participants also highlighted the recent progress made on Medicare drug pricing negotiations. In August, CMS announced the first ten drugs selected for negotiation, and recently, all ten drug companies signed agreements to begin negotiations. In September 2024, CMS will publish the maximum fair prices negotiated for the first set of Medicare Part D drugs selected for negotiation. Maximum fair prices for these drugs will go into effect in 2026.
While much of the roundtable focused on the benefits of the prescription drug law, the participants also discussed Medicaid renewals. The Medicaid renewal process recently restarted after being paused during the COVID pandemic. Under federal Medicaid law, states must renew coverage for people with Medicaid at least every 12 months, and disenroll and refer to the Marketplace or other sources of coverage those who no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage. Organizations discussed efforts they are taking to reach people who may have lost Medicaid coverage but may now be eligible for a different type of coverage, such as Medicare or Marketplace coverage. To ensure as many people stay covered as possible, the Administration has worked extensively with states on strategies to make renewing Medicaid coverage as easy as possible, for example, offering states flexibilities on how they process renewal forms, allowing them to give individuals more time to complete paperwork, and allowing third parties to help with Medicaid renewals.
Organizations in attendance included:
- Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF)
- Center for American Progress
- Center for Medicare Advocacy
- Families USA
- Justice in Aging
- National Asian Pacific Center on Aging
- National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
- National Council on Aging
- National Minority Quality Forum
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Medicare Rights Center
- Protect Our Care
- Public Citizen