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Lawmakers visit Detroit to talk up Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at making prescriptions affordable

Officials gather outside of Henry Ford Hospital
Briana Rice
Michigan Radio
Officials gather outside of Henry Ford Hospital

State and federal lawmakers were in Detroit Tuesday at the Henry Ford Hospital to talk up a new bill they say will make health care more affordable for low-income individuals.

The Inflation Reduction Act would enable Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices. It would also cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 dollars a year.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says Americans pay more for prescriptions than people in any other country.

"And the worst part about that is, at least for Medicare, is that the government, the federal government, which operates the Medicare program, has been prohibited from getting a better price."

The bill was a priority for Michigan State Senator Debbie Stabenow.

"Medicine ought to be something in the United States of America that everyone can afford to have. Health care should be something that everyone in America should afford to be able to have. It literally should be a right, not a privilege," she said.

Dr. Adnan Munkarah is the executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Henry Ford Health. He says high costs for medicine are a barrier for many of his patients.

"Unfortunately what this means it’s sometimes a tough decision between buying the drug having to pay for food, to pay for rent or utilities. And this is not right, this is not right to have to face these kind of challenging decisions," he said.

The bill still needs to pass the House before it becomes law. House Democrats say they they're hoping to vote on it this week.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.