Heart medications can be a huge financial strain, but the reconciliation bill could help

2 min
August 05, 2022

By Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

August 5, 2022

A key provision in the Senate Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill that caps out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients at $2,000 per year could be a lifeline for millions of older adults struggling to pay for heart medications. 

Drug prices are a “deep and challenging” issue for people who take heart medications, said Dr. Khurram Nasir, chief of the division of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at the Houston Methodist Heart and Vascular Center.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 700,000 people die from it each year. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all American adults have some form of heart disease.

Nasir co-authored a study published in the journal Circulation 2019 that found 1 in 8 Americans who suffer from heart disease can’t afford their heart medications. The study used National Health Interview Survey data from 2013 through 2017.

“Cost of medications is a real issue for millions of high-risk patients with cardiovascular disease,” Nasir said.

Dr. Mark Fendrick, a professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, agreed that financial strain is especially common for people who take heart medications.

That’s because, Fendrick said, people on those medications are often older and retired and usually have limited incomes. To make matters worse, they often have other chronic conditions that also require treatment and other costly prescription drugs.