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The deal on Capitol Hill could cut prescription costs for millions of Medicare beneficiaries

Joe Manchin
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to reporters outside the hearing room where he chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, at the Capitol in Washington, July 19, 2022.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that had eluded them for months on health care costs, energy and climate issues.

Some older Americans are cheering news of a deal on Capitol Hill that could lead to lower drug costs.

The health care and climate agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin includes multiple landmark provisions that could help Medicare beneficiaries. Among them: a $2,000-a-year-cap on prescription drug costs, and a provision allowing the federal government to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

Senior citizens on costly drugs can run up bills of tens of thousands of dollars a year.

David Lipschutz of the nonpartisan Center for Medicare Advocacy calls the deal “transformational” even if it doesn’t go as far as some lawmakers and advocates had hoped.

Some of the issues in the deal have been talked about for decades and proved elusive. But Manchin’s backing brought new optimism to many who have lobbied and prayed for relief.

“We worry constantly, ‘Will we be able to afford this?’” said Becky Miller, a 67-year-old retired teacher from Bradenton, who spends thousands of dollars each year for drugs to treat epilepsy, heart problems and an inflammatory disease that affects her spine.

She is afraid the powerful pharmaceutical lobby might still thwart the plan, but said, “If this goes through, it will help a lot of people.”

The health care benefits were part of a $739 billion package called the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.” It would be paid for largely by a 15% minimum tax on corporations earning more than $1 billion a year.

Republicans have been solidly opposed to passing the plan amid rising inflation and a weakening economy that many economists claim is in a recession after six straight months of contraction.

Click here for more on this article from the Associated Press.