Spanberger Joins AARP Virginia Town Hall, Backs Bills to Lower Drug Costs for Seniors, Expand Medicare Coverage, & Support Caregivers

On Monday Evening, the Congresswoman Joined AARP Virginia to Discuss Her Work in Congress to Support Family Caregivers & Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs

The Congresswoman Also Backed Four Bills Requiring Medicare to Cover Dental, Vision, & Hearing Services; Disincentivize Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) From Raising Drug Prices for Beneficiaries; Support Caregivers; Improve Coordination Between Seniors & Caregivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday evening joined AARP Virginia to discuss her efforts in Congress to support family caregivers and lower the cost of prescription drugs. She also backed multiple bills to expand access to affordable healthcare and prescription medication for Virginia’s seniors and support family caregivers.

According to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), nearly 1.6 million Virginians are enrolled in Medicare. Yesterday evening, Spanberger took questions from Virginia seniors who are contending with high prescription drug costs, who are caregivers for loved ones, and who are worried about unaffordable coverage. She provided direct answers to their questions and provided updates about how the Inflation Reduction Act — which Spanberger voted to pass and President Biden signed into law — is continuing to lower prescription drug costs for Virginia seniors. Beginning on January 1, 2025, the Inflation Reduction Act will cap out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 for Medicare Part D.

“Back in 2022, I was proud to vote to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. When this bill was signed into law, it came with a real promise to the United States’ seniors that we are working to lower drug costs,” said Spanberger during the event. “I also understand that Virginia’s caregivers are facing challenges. Across the Seventh District, I hear from caregivers who are exhausted, overworked, and in need of support. I hear from those who depend on their caregiver, familial or otherwise, and recognize the impact on the individual who is supporting them. So many Virginians are devoting their time, their energy, and their money to caring for their loved ones. I want to express my gratitude for all the work that caregivers are doing, and that’s why ensuring support for caregivers has been a priority.”

“Throughout her three terms in Congress, Representative Spanberger has been a leader in supporting family caregivers and in the fight to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug costs,” said Jim Dowd, Executive Director, AARP Virginia during the event. “Representative Spanberger, thank you. Certainly, it’s been a pleasure to work with you on caregiving issues. We appreciate your continued leadership on lowering the cost of prescription drugs and helping to make them more accessible, affordable, and effective for more people.”

Click here for a recording of the event on AARP Virginia’s Facebook page.

Last night’s event coincided with Spanberger backing several bills that would help lower drug costs and improve the experience of Virginia caregivers.

After hearing directly from Virginia seniors who are facing exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for routine exams, Spanberger backed legislation that would require Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing services. Specifically, the Medicare and Medicaid Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act would require Medicare coverage of routine dental cleanings and exams, basic and major dental services, emergency dental care, and dentures; routine eye exams, eyeglasses, and contact lenses; and routine hearing and hearing aid exams, as well as hearing aids.

Additionally, Spanberger backed bipartisan legislation to help tackle the prescription drug affordability crisis and lower drug costs for Virginia seniors. The Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act would prohibit pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) — the middlemen between pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, and pharmacies — from making higher profits on expensive drugs than they do from lower-cost drugs. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit PBMs from linking rebates paid by manufacturers to the list price of the drug covered under Medicare Part D or Medicaid and instead implement a flat service fee paid to PBMs. Additionally, the bill would ban spread pricing — the practice of PBMs billing Medicare, Medicaid, or other health plan sponsors more than the reimbursements paid to pharmacies. The bipartisan legislation would also ban PBMs from steering Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to PBM-owned pharmacies and reimbursing out-of-network pharmacies at a different rate than in-network pharmacies.

Spanberger also backed the Credit for Caring Act, which would support family caregivers by creating a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $5,000 that could be used to cover certain qualifying expenses. These expenses include transportation, home modifications to accommodate a family member, medication management services, and training or education for the caregiver. The amount of the credit would be 30 percent of the qualified expenses paid or incurred by the family caregiver above $2,000, up to a maximum credit amount of $5,000.

Additionally, Spanberger backed the bipartisan Connecting Caregivers to Medicare Act, which would make it easier for family caregivers to access their loved one’s personal health information, as needed. Specifically, the bill requires CMS to publicize the voluntary option for 1-800-MEDICARE to share a Medicare beneficiary’s health information with a family caregiver, if they choose, to help improve coordination between caregivers and Medicare beneficiaries.

If Virginians have additional questions about these issues, they can contact Spanberger’s office at (703) 987-2180 or spanberger.house.gov.

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