US President Joe Biden speaks about lowering healthcare costs, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 29, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is placing a priority on reducing individual health-care costs as he seeks reelection in a country where medical spending accounts for 18.3% of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Boy, we’ve been fighting Big Pharma for a long time,” Biden said Tuesday from the White House. “I promise you I’m gonna have your back and I’ll never stop fighting for you on this issue, nor will Kamala.”
On Tuesday, the White House announced ten prescription drugs that will be subject to the first-ever Medicare price negotiations, which will go into effect in 2026. The 10 medicines accounted for $50.5 billion, or about 20%, of total Part D prescription drug costs from June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Big Pharma [is] charging Americans more than three times what they charge other countries simply because they can,” Biden said. “I think it’s outrageous. That’s why these negotiations matter.”
Biden’s challenge over the next 14 months will be to convince voters that he is lowering everyday costs for them despite high interest rates and inflation that has not yet fallen back to pre-pandemic levels.
This task is complicated by the fact that many of Biden’s legislative and policy accomplishments will take years to implement, so they don’t have an immediate, tangible impact on people’s lives. Nonetheless, Democrats argue the president should be given a second term to, in Biden’s words, “finish the job.”
Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said the news was “what delivering results looks like,” but warned it could be undone if Biden isn’t re-elected.
“That progress is all on the line in 2024,” Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “The choice in this election is between a president focused on you, and a slate of candidates focused on extreme policies that put their wealthy donors first.”
The message coming out of the White House Tuesday was that, thanks to Biden, Americans will no longer have to pay the highest prices in the world for medicines.
“Big Pharma and their Republican allies in Congress finally lost – to Joe Biden and Bidenomics,” Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a memo.
The careful staging of Tuesday’s Medicare announcement, complete with side events and media briefings, underscores how important health care is to Biden’s reelection campaign, which is already well underway.
Biden’s signature domestic legislation, 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act, capped out-of-pocket insulin spending at $35 per month for people on Medicare, and individual out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs at $2,000 annually. Additionally, the administration cut costs for hearing aids by making them available over the counter and cut the cost of insurance through the Affordable Care Act via tax subsidies.
It’s all part of Biden’s emphasis on addressing so-called “kitchen table” issues that resonate with swing voters in battleground states.
Up next, the president has said he plans to expand the insulin cost cap to cover privately insured Americans and make the ACA tax subsidies permanent.
“We’re going to see this through,” Biden said. “We’re going to keep standing up to Big Pharma and we’re not going to back down.”