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Scanlon, Boyle, Welch Introduce Legislation to Lower Healthcare Costs

October 8, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-2), and Peter Welch (VT-At Large) introduced the Better Tools to Lower Costs Act of 2019 which would expand access to affordable prescription drugs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries by suspending a restrictive asset limit that prevents many in need from qualifying for relief.

Under current guidelines, the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, otherwise known as the “Extra Help” program, provides subsidies to low-income Medicare beneficiaries to help bring down the costs of their Medicare Part-D prescription drugs. This program helps lower the costs of premiums and deductibles, for some individuals covering them entirely, and sets a very low cap on the cost of each prescription drug.

While the program does protect many of these most vulnerable people, a restrictive asset limit prevents many in need from qualifying for the program. In addition to being under a certain income threshold, LIS applicants must also have less than $9,230 for individuals or $14,600.00 for couples in qualifying assets. The list of assets that qualify includes cash, checking and savings accounts, and IRAs.

This asset requirement restricts low-income individuals who may have a small amount of retirement savings or emergency cash stowed away from applying for the subsidies they desperately need.

“We must do all we can to remove the barriers to access of affordable healthcare,” Scanlon said. “No one should be punished for preparing for their future or be forced to jump through hoops to get needed help paying for prescription drugs. The Better Tools to Lower Costs Act of 2019 would suspend the asset requirement, making sure those most in need have access to these necessary resources.”

“It’s time we modernize the LIS to support families that need our help the most,” Boyle said. “The cost of prescription drugs has skyrocketed for families across the nation. I’m proud to join my colleague in introducing this legislation to remove an arbitrary barrier that prevents some of our most vulnerable community members from being able to access affordable healthcare.”

“With prescription drug prices skyrocketing, it’s more important than ever for vulnerable Medicare recipients to have easy access to assistance,” Welch said.  “This bill would make sure that seniors are not penalized for saving for their future or prevented from applying for subsidies by onerous paperwork.  It is an important step towards making sure seniors can afford the drugs they need.”

A full copy of the Better Tools to Lower Costs Act of 2019 can be found here.