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DeMarco is wasting no time in wanting commitments from congressional candidates on prescription drug costs

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Senator Chris Van Hollen (D) joins Maryland Health Care for All! at a press conference marking the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act on August 15, 2023. Vincent DeMarco, the group’s president, stands at right. Photo by Danielle J. Brown.

On the heels of the 2024 Maryland primary, Vincent DeMarco, chairman of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, wants the newly victorious congressional candidates to promise to lower drug costs for Maryland and the United States.

DeMarco’s letter begins with a hearty “Congratulations on winning your primary!” and jumps right into his field.

On behalf of the Maryland Citizen’ Health Initiative, I am writing to urge you to commit to the lifesaving health care access and prescription drug affordability provisions of President Joe Biden’s (D) landmark Inflation Reduction Act from 2022.says the letter to congressional candidates.

One of DeMarco’s current efforts, a longtime health care advocate in Maryland, includes lowering prescription drug costs through various state and federal avenues. He is a strong supporter of the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which is currently looking for ways to reduce drug costs for those covered by the state’s health care plan.

But DeMarco wants to see lower prescription costs in the United States.

“Marylanders need to know about the candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on protecting the health care coverage and prescription drug affordability of the historic Inflation Reduction Act,” DeMarco said in a written statement.

Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, omnibus legislation that affects a variety of policy arenas, such as climate change and job creation. It also includes some provisions to help reduce prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients.

“These changes together will save tens of millions of Americans – including many in Maryland – from the physical and financial pain of expensive medications, and will save the U.S. Treasury Department hundreds of billions of dollars each year,” the letter to congressional candidates said.

Part of the Inflation Reduction Act limits the cost of insulin for Medicare recipients to $35 per month. A similar measure will take effect next year, capping prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients at $2,000 per year.

The Inflation Reduction Acts also give the federal government the authority to negotiate with drug manufacturers over the costs of certain drugs covered by Medicare.

The IRA has barely passed the US Congress in 2022 and there are those who would like to weaken or repeal the IRA.the letter warns.

PhRMA, a pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, has challenged the Medicare drug price negotiation process in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. According to Axios, the lawsuit was dismissed in February, although more legal challenges may follow.

Maryland Health Care for All has set up an online submission form for candidates to submit their answers, which is open until July 15.

Candidates who sign the pledge pledge to “oppose any efforts to weaken the prescription drug affordability provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

The pledge also wants congressional candidates to protect federal health care subsidies “that have enabled millions of Americans, including tens of thousands here in Maryland, to afford health care coverage.”

These grants expire in 2025, and candidates who sign the pledge also promise to work toward extending them beyond that year.

Despite predictions that some federal races might be too close to happen on election night, most of the fall campaigns appeared to come into focus well before midnight, just hours after polls closed at 8 p.m.

Former Gov. Larry Hogan easily won the Republican nomination for Senate, as was widely expected, and appears headed to a race against Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who had a comfortable lead over U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th ) after an expensive and bitter Democratic primary. Alsobrooks and Hogan will compete for the Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D).

All five incumbent members of the House of Representatives seeking re-election – Reps. Andy Harris (R-1st), Glenn Ivey (D-4th), Steny Hoyer (D-5th), Kweisi Mfume (D-7th) and Jamie Raskin (D-8th) – were on their way to easy wins on Tuesday. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat; Senator Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel); and Democrat April McClain Delaney and former GOP Del. Neil Parrot appeared to have secured nominations in the 2nd, 3rd and 6th District races, respectively.

DeMarco’s letter to congressional candidates promises “do everything we can to ensure that Maryland voters know where you stand on this critical issue,” based on their answers, or lack thereof, to the letter.

“WWe will ensure that Maryland voters know which candidates for the United States Senate and House of Representatives are committed to protecting our hard-won health care gains.‘ the letter concludes.