Over 108,000 Californians on Medicare to See $35 Insulin Cap: Inland Empire to Benefit from Healthcare Savings

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In a move to elevate healthcare affordability, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, alongside Representative Pete Aguilar, announced groundbreaking measures to reduce prescription drug costs for Californians, particularly for the Latino community, which has historically faced challenges in accessing affordable medication.

During his visit to the Inland Empire as part of his “National Latino Health Tour,” Secretary Becerra emphasized the positive impact of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.

“We have to remember that there were days before the Inflation Reduction Act became law and lowered the price of insulin, people were having to ration their insulin and make decisions about what to do in their daily lives if they wanted to afford it,” said Becerra. “Today, people paying no more than $35 for insulin when on Medicare is a big deal, and the fact that we now have the ability to negotiate the prices on medicine is huge.”

The $35 insulin cost cap is set to benefit 108,164 Californians on Medicare who use insulin, addressing a critical need in a state where one 10-milliliter vial of insulin can cost up to $400; a person usually needs two to three vials a month. “This is the right thing to do for our patient care. We are going to continue lowering the cost of healthcare here in the Inland Empire because it matters to people,” said Rep. Aguilar.

Photo by Maha Rizvi: (Left to right) Supervisor Joe Baca Jr., Mayor Helen Tran, Representative Pete Aguilar, Secretary Xavier Becerra, SAC Health Chief Executive Officer Jason Lohr, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes, and SBCCD Trustee Frank Reyes at the press event.

Further emphasizing the Act’s impact, Rep. Aguilar highlighted that drug negotiations will benefit more than 830,000 California Medicare enrollees, saving them between $64 and $4,297 in out-of-pocket costs for the first ten drugs subject to price negotiations.

Additionally, the Act ensures that recommended vaccines are now free for the more than 1.2 million Latinos in California enrolled in Medicare, and introduces a $2,000 annual out-of-pocket cost cap, effective in 2025, which will save 203,210 Californians an average of $341.84.

Secretary Becerra also noted the historic increase in Latino enrollment in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, which jumped by 53% from 2020 to 2022, helping more than 900,000 Latinos nationwide gain health insurance than ever before.

The press event also featured a fireside chat between Congressman Pete Aguilar and Secretary Becerra, where they discussed important issues like the Affordable Care Act, health insurance, medication prices, and mental health. A SAC Health patient named Sheila provided a poignant testimony on the importance of insulin and the recent struggles faced in terms of cost and accessibility, underscoring the significance of the measures announced.

Photo by Manny Sandoval: Representative Pete Aguilar and Secretary Xavier Becerra sharing data on recent prescription drug negotiations at SAC Health in San Bernardino on April 5, 2024.

As the Inland Empire and the broader Californian community look forward to these changes, the hope is that the Inflation Reduction Act will pave the way for a healthier and more affordable future for all.

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