Statement from the Alliance for Aging Research on the Cut Inflation Act of 2022

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — President and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) Susan PechinMHS, issued the following statement on the Cut Inflation Act 2022:

Logo of the Alliance for research on aging (PRNewsfoto/Alliance for research on aging)

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has several provisions that the Alliance for Aging Research has long supported and which should become law— expansion of the subsidy program for low-income persons; reduce immunization costs for beneficiaries; an inflationary ceiling; and most notably, the Medicare Part D provisions restructuring benefits and adding a much-needed annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses. For this reason, it is deeply disappointing that we have to to oppose the current version of the bill because it allows for a generalized and discriminatory government price-fixing structure under the guise of direct negotiation. In its current form, this legislation authorizes the use of discriminatory methodologies against older people and people with disabilities that could significantly limit patient access to current and future breakthrough treatments. Since 2019, the Alliance has consistently urged federal policymakers to reject any proposed prescription drug pricing, including international benchmark pricing, most favored nationand direct negotiation– which would authorize the Medicare program to use discriminatory cost-benefit standards to ration care.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 ignores repeated recommendations from the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency. Since 2019the NCD cautioned against allowing the use of discriminatory pricing methodologies, such as the quality-adjusted life year (QALY), as this would harm the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and major US disability and civil rights laws. In February of this year, the NCD’s 2022 Health Equity Framework for Persons with Disabilities specifically offered a “coverage [legislative] ban” on the use of QALYs by “any federal agency” and last November recommended wording for unambiguously cross out the QALYs in the reconciliation bill. Also last fall more than 130 organizations have called on Congress to reject drug proposals that use the QALY methodology or similar value assessment frameworks, stating, “Because Medicare is the primary source of health insurance for the elderly and disabled, the use of QALYs or similar measures in pricing would be particularly detrimental to the very groups the program is intended to serve.”

Worse still, the legislation prohibits public comment or input on drug negotiation processes, including the criteria used to set prices. Congress’ prohibition of the contribution would create an exception to the common practice of federal agencies to seek public comment. Moreover, in a Morning Consult survey of the Alliance commissioned last September, only 16% saw “direct negotiation” as the government setting the prices of prescription drugs and refusing to cover them if the company disagrees; however, that is exactly what Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would do.

Seniors expect and deserve their members of Congress to support proposals that address rising direct prescription drug costs without requiring restricted access to care as a trade-off. For these reasons, we urge the Senate to revise this latest proposal not only to address the health and economic well-being of older adults, but to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries are treated fairly.

Media contact: Matthew Thompsonmthompson@agingresearch.org

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SOURCE Alliance for Research in Aging