10 Prescription Drugs Medicare Will Negotiate First

On August 29, the federal government announced the names of the first 10 Rx drugs that will be subject to price negotiations between Medicare and drug companies.

By Nora Duncan

This AARP.org article by Dena Bunis, 10 Prescription Drugs Medicare Will Negotiate First, is a good resource for learning more about this important first step in lowering drug prices for older adults. 

This occasion marks the first time in history that Medicare – the nation’s largest health program – will be able to negotiate the price of life-sustaining medications that millions of older Americans rely upon to prevent strokes and blood clots and to treat diabetes and cancer.

Between June 2022 and May 2023, Medicare Part D spent $50 billion on the 10 drugs selected for the first round of negotiations. That represents 20 percent of Part D spending during that time period. These medications were used by 8.2 million Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare is scheduled to choose 15 additional drugs for negotiations with prices to take effect in 2027, another 15 in 2028, and 20 more medications annually starting in 2029.

In the long run, Medicare beneficiaries, who often must pay a percentage of a drug’s cost, will benefit directly from lower negotiated prices, and the government can use the money saved to shore up Medicare’s finances. Negotiations will be expanded to include additional drugs in the years ahead, which could magnify the savings. Lower Medicare spending is also expected to lead to lower Part D premiums.

Lower prices for consumers also mean that the Medicare program will save money. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the negotiations provision of the new law will save Medicare $98.5 billion over 10 years.

Nearly 52 million Medicare beneficiaries are either enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan or get drug coverage through their Medicare Advantage plan.

For years, polls have shown overwhelming public support for allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. A 2021 KFF public opinion survey found that 83 percent of Americans favored allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

That support crossed party lines, with 92 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of independents and 76 percent of Republicans in favor of price negotiations. A 2022 AARP poll found that 89 percent of voters in the most competitive congressional districts would be more likely to vote for a candidate who backed drug negotiations.

Big drug companies fought against this provision and continue to oppose it. Manufacturers, as well as several business groups, have filed lawsuits in federal courts across the country in an attempt to derail the negotiation process. AARP and AARP Foundation recently filed a friend of the court legal brief urging a federal judge in Ohio to deny a request by several chambers of commerce that the negotiations process be delayed. 

I encourage everyone to read the AARP article, as well as other stories, to learn more about this important subject.

Nora Duncan is the state director for AARP Connecticut.