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Prescription drugs

Memphis residents need a solution to rising prices

  • D’aja Grandberry is an MPH candidate at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

According to Definitive Healthcare, Tennessee is ranked 11th in the nation with the highest price for prescription drugs. Another report says Tennessee is the last state with the most expensive prescription drugs.

Patients in the city of Memphis, Tennessee are grappling with one of the toughest decisions: food versus life-saving medicine.

Mearl Purvis, a well-known news anchor in Memphis, wrote an expose on the impact of incredibly high prescription drug prices on the lives of Memphis residents. Purvis pointed to the fact that Democrats and Republicans scatter blame.

Democrats think unfair business practices are to blame, while Republicans blame drug benefit managers. To make matters worse, there is no bipartisan plan to set drug prices from February 2022.

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Citizens need a bipartisan effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs

In my opinion, blaming doesn’t help anyone, especially the people of Mid-South Tennessee. As someone who has family members living in Memphis who need prescription drugs to survive, I personally see the struggle they must go through to pay for the drugs.

Changes to Medicare could affect prescription drug benefits for enrollees, in addition to reimbursement rates for physicians.

Many of my family members have diabetes and need insulin. The price of insulin has increased by 54% between 2014 and 2019. This increase alone is very worrying. I find the fact that there is no plan to help fix this problem even more troubling.

This problem affects many Americans. The first step to solving this problem is to fix the problems within Medicare Part D. Research shows that if policymakers improve understanding of catastrophic coverage, it could have a huge impact on drug prices. This means analyzing the characteristics of beneficiaries.

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Some solutions to this dilemma

By focusing on the factors of entry into the catastrophic phase, analyzing the patterns of those who enter allows policy makers to deal only with them. Patients entering are more likely to be on specialty medications, which were associated with higher direct costs.

D'Aja Grandberry

MedPAC’s proposal suggests that a cost-sharing adjustment could help bring prices down. MedPAC also suggests that if Part D pays 80% and Medicare pays 20% of prices, it will lower the cost of prescription drugs. Even though these percentages are high, any percentage that reduces the cost will help those in need.

The parties should put the blame aside and focus on developing a plan to help citizens pay for prescription drugs. Policies should meet the needs of those enrolling in Medicare Part D. Changing the payout percentages will help considerably.

Bold and far-reaching actions are needed to reduce prescription drug prices and ensure affordability for Part D enrollees. I know the citizens of Memphis would appreciate this, and my family will too.

D’aja Grandberry is an MPH candidate at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Joan J. Dean

The author Joan J. Dean