RICHMOND, Va. -- The head of the Virginia AARP is very excited about a change on the horizon for Virginians who rely on Medicare.
"This has been a long time coming," AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau said. "It is hard to overstate just how big the provisions in this bill were."
He's talking about the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law earlier this year already requires that Medicare begin bargaining over the price of a handful of drugs starting next year.
The agency is fine-tuning how that process will work, hiring new employees for a drug pricing division, and is expected to pick the first 10 drugs that will be negotiated in 2023.
That newly-acquired power to negotiate drug prices is controversial, with the powerful pharmaceutical industry lobbying against the rule and considering legal actions to prevent its implementation.
The new law will lower drug costs for the 49 million people on Medicare in a number of other ways that have been less controversial.
It makes vaccines free, caps monthly out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35, and limits out-of-pocket drug expenses at $2,000 starting in 2025.
Any additional proposals to curb the cost of drug prices are likely to be met with resistance.
Starting next year, drug companies will also have to pay penalties to Medicare if they raise the cost of their products at a rate that outpaces inflation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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