The Medicare pricing agreement will play a key role in Biden’s 2024 campaign presentation

US President Joe Biden speaks on reducing health care costs in the East Room of the White House on August 29, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden places great emphasis on reducing individual healthcare costs as he seeks re-election in a country where healthcare spending is a priority 18.3% of the country's gross domestic product, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Boy, we've been fighting big pharma for a long time,” Biden said Tuesday from the White House. “I promise I will stand behind you and never stop fighting for you on this issue, and neither will Kamala.”

On Tuesday, the White House announced ten prescription drugs that will be the subject of the first Medicare price negotiations, which will take effect in 2026. The ten drugs accounted for $50.5 billion, or about 20% of total Part D prescription drug costs between June 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Big pharmaceutical industry [is] “We're asking Americans more than three times what they're asking other countries just because they can,” Biden said. “I think that's outrageous.” That's why these negotiations are important.”

Biden's challenge over the next 14 months will be convincing voters that he is cutting everyday costs to them, even though interest rates are high and inflation has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

That task is complicated by the fact that many of Biden's legislative and policy gains will take years to implement, so they will not have an immediate, tangible impact on people's lives. Nonetheless, Democrats argue that the president should be given a second term to, in Biden's words, “get the job done.”

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Biden-Harris 2024 campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said the news is “what it looks like to deliver results,” but warned it could be undone if Biden is not re-elected.

“That progress is at stake in 2024,” Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “The choice in this election lies between a president who is focused on you and a slate of candidates who are focused on extreme politics that put their wealthy donors first.”

The message came out of the White House on Tuesday that thanks to Biden, Americans will no longer have to pay the highest prices in the world for drugs.

“Big Pharma and their Republican allies in Congress ended up losing — to Joe Biden and Bidenomics,” Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a memo.

The careful staging of Tuesday's Medicare announcement, including side events and media briefings, underscores the importance of healthcare to Biden's reelection campaign, which is already well underway.

Biden's key domestic law, the Inflation Reduction Act 2022, capped insulin co-payments for Medicare beneficiaries at $35 per month and individual prescription drug spending at $2,000 per year. In addition, the administration lowered the cost of hearing aids by making them available over-the-counter and lowered insurance costs through tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.

This is all part of Biden's focus on resolving so-called “kitchen table” issues that resonate with swing voters in contested states.

Next, the President announced that he plans to expand the insulin cost cap to cover privately insured Americans and make the ACA tax break permanent.

“We're going to do this,” Biden said. “We will continue to stand up to big pharma and not back down.”

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