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AP
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FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2020, photo a patient's vital signs are displayed on a monitor at a hospital in Portland, Ore. At its current pace, Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2028, according to the latest Medicare trustees report. That’s a two-year extension on the previous estimate. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

AP
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At its current pace, Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2028, according to the latest Medicare trustees report. That’s a two-year extension on the previous estimate, but experts say it’s still not good news, and the government needs to stop twiddling its thumbs. If Medicare exhausts its Part A reserves, hospital insurance spending will be cut by 10% starting as soon as 2029. Shoring up Medicare could mean doing things like shifting some benefits from Part A to Part B, revamping Medicare prescription drug coverage, reducing payments to providers or moving some money over from other parts of the government’s budget.

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Reining in the soaring prices of insulin has thus far been elusive in Congress, although Democrats say they’ll try again — as part of their economic package that focuses on health and climate. The price of the 100-year-old drug has more than tripled in the last two decades, forcing the nation’s diabetics to pay thousands of dollars a year for the life-saving medication. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said some language that limits the price of insulin will be added to the economic bill, but it’s not clear what that price point will be and who will be protected by that price cap.

AP
  • Updated

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.

Pharmacy benefits manager Optum Rx has agreed to pay $5.8 million after allegedly failing to follow workers’ compensation prescription pricing procedures, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.