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‘An Arm and a Leg’: The New Cap on Medicare Drug Costs

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On a Sunday afternoon in August, health services researcher Stacie Dusetzina was sitting alone in her office at Vanderbilt University, watching C-SPAN and crying.

The U.S. Senate was voting on the Inflation Reduction Act, which among other things is designed to ensure that people on Medicare pay less for expensive drugs.

It’s a big deal. Lots of seniors pay $10,000 a year or more for drugs or do without lifesaving treatment; once the new law kicks in, it sets an out-of-pocket limit of $2,000 a year. 

Dusetzina and her colleagues have spent years making the case for this change, documenting the ways current policies leave people in the lurch. 

The pharmaceutical industry fought this change tooth and nail — for decades. Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent for KHN, takes listeners on a journey back to the late 1980s, when Congress learned the cost of messing with Big Pharma. 

“An Arm and a Leg” is a co-production of KHN and Public Road Productions.

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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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