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AARP ‘People’s Hearing’ Will Highlight Rx Struggles

Congress will hear how high prescription drug prices affect older Americans

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Kitty Ruderman does without the medicines she needs for high cholesterol and osteoporosis because she can’t afford them on her ­fixed income. And U.S. Navy veteran Keith Coe and his wife ration the insulin she needs to treat her diabetes because they can’t afford the $650 to pay for the doses her doctor has prescribed.

These are just two stories that will be told Wednesday at AARP’s “People’s Hearing.” The event, which will be livestreamed on aarp.org, will highlight for members of Congress why lawmakers must do something to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Anyone interested in attending the virtual hearing can register here.

Be Part of the 'People's Hearing' for Lower Prices

All across the country real people struggle to afford the outrageous cost of medicine. Congress must hear their stories and take action. Register now for the 'People's Hearing' on the high cost of prescription drugs.
 

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AARP’s Fair Rx Prices Now campaign has been fighting for three reforms that could help older Americans afford their lifesaving medications: Allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drugmakers; place a cap on Part D out-of-pocket costs; and levy penalties on companies that raise medication prices higher than the rate of inflation.

“Not being able to afford the prescription drugs they need is a very real struggle for millions for Americans,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “It’s vitally important that policymakers hear these stories. American families need relief from skyrocketing prescription drug prices, and they need it now.” 

The hearing, from 4 to 5 p.m. Eastern time, will feature comments from AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, individual stories from Americans across the country who are struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, a poll of viewers on their concerns about affording their medicines, and AARP research on the rapid rise of prescription prices.

At the hearing, Ruderman, 75, who lives in New York City, will talk about how her Social Security benefits and modest pension are not enough to pay for the medications she needs to treat her high cholesterol and osteoporosis.

“My doctor has repeatedly prescribed medications, and then I go to the pharmacy and have to decline them due to how much it would cost me,” Ruderman says in comments prepared for the hearing. “Congress needs to bring some relief from this madness now.”​

Coe’s wife, Lisa, takes 12 prescriptions, and the couple spends about $900 a month on those medications. The single biggest cost is insulin, which they ration. “Although Lisa’s doctor has repeatedly told us that this rationing is detrimental to her health, we just don’t have much of a choice,” Coe says in his prepared remarks. “We must regularly decide between paying for her medications versus paying for other day-to-day expenses. We are struggling financially and emotionally, and it seems like nobody cares.”​

Dena Bunis covers Medicare, health care, health policy and Congress. She also writes the “Medicare Made Easy” column for the AARP Bulletin. An award-winning journalist, Bunis spent decades working for metropolitan daily newspapers, including as Washington bureau chief for the Orange County Register and as a health policy and workplace writer for Newsday.