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Medicare enrollment now open; 2024 plans will include new negotiated drug prices

It’s that time of year when older Arizonans can update and enroll in their 2024 Medicare plans. Medicare Director Meena Seshamani touted the new benefits, including drug costs, in Phoenix on Monday.

"And also thanks to the new drug law starting in 2024, January 1. People who have high cost drugs, like many cancer drugs, for example, when you hit that catastrophic phase of your pharmacy benefit, you do not have to pay any more out of pocket," she said.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate some drug prices. 

Linda Somo, president of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, calls this an essential health issue. 

"One in four older Arizonans have reported that they do not take at least one of their medications as prescribed due to cost," she said.

She said Americans have paid the highest prices for these drugs for decades, "and older Americans have borne the brunt of that crisis, that drug price crisis. Even with Medicare, seniors have paid an average of $40,00 out of pocket for their medicines," explained Somo.

The first 10 drugs selected for negotiation are taken by millions on Medicare. 

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.