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AARP CEO to Drug Companies: ‘We Won’t Back Down’

Greg Kahn for AARP

En español | AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins joined U.S. senators on Capitol Hill Thursday to mark the first anniversary of last year’s historic prescription drug law, which lowers drug prices for millions of Americans on Medicare.

The law allows Medicare for the first time to negotiate drug prices, caps out-of-pocket costs for people in Medicare prescription drug plans and penalizes drugmakers that raise the prices of their products by more than the rate of inflation.

Calling the law’s passage “a monumental achievement,” Jenkins noted that drug companies “are already spending millions of dollars” trying to overturn it “so they can keep charging older Americans the highest drug prices in the world.”

She vowed to continue AARP’s decades-long fight to lower drug prices for seniors who are struggling to pay for their medications. “We won’t back down until Americans finally get the relief they need and that they are so desperately fighting for,” she said.

Jenkins was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other lawmakers who championed the legislation, including Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Ron Wyden and Amy Klobuchar. Schumer and other senators pledged to support bills this year that would lower insulin costs for more Americans and close loopholes drug companies use to block consumers’ access to lower-priced generic medications, efforts AARP supports.

“When it comes to drug prices, we ain’t finished yet,” Schumer said.

Jenkins also was flanked by members of the AARP Capitol Hill Strike Force, a group of volunteers that worked for years to get the legislation passed. AARP led efforts last year to advance the prescription drug law and ramped up pressure on Congress as it neared the finish line.

Jenkins said the law is already bringing savings to many older Americans on Medicare through a $35 monthly cap on insulin copays and free recommended vaccines, including the costly shingles shot — and that more savings are coming.

AARP member Irv Varkonyi, 72, of Fairfax, Virginia, said during the event that he spends $14,000 a year out of pocket on Medicare Part D prescription drug copayments for himself and his wife, an expense that will drop significantly in 2025 when a $2,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket costs takes effect.

“I’ll be able to use that savings for my grandchildren and other uses as well,” he said.

Watch a recording of the event, and learn more about how we’re fighting to lower prescription drug costs.

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