Emily Rice Published

Advocates Celebrate Inflation Reduction Act Anniversary

Three women and two men pose for a photo on a blank white wall.
Eve-Marcum Atkinson, WV Citizen Action Group Director of Operations and Healthcare Programs, Brandi Reece, Coordinator for the WV New Jobs Coalition, Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of WV Citizen Action Group, Ellen Allen, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, and Zach Shrewsbury, Organizer for Common Defense.
West Virginia Citizen Action Group

On the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), advocates held a press conference to discuss resources available to West Virginians under the law.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 helps individuals lower their health, energy and tax bills. Some initiatives in the law aim to incentivize communities, businesses and industries to adopt energy-friendly practices.

Executive Director of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, Gary Zuckett, said it is important to bring attention to the savings available to West Virginians from the IRA.

“It really has the potential to do so much good for West Virginia, and West Virginians, and the word is not really getting out,” Zuckett said. “We think that the more people find out about it and learn some of the benefits that would be coming into their communities and to their families and so forth, that they would appreciate more what this new, far-reaching federal legislation is trying to do.”

To improve health outcomes, the law includes prescription drug reform by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and capping the cost of insulin at $35.

“For the first time, Medicare (is allowed) to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for the seniors (who) so desperately need that. So many people on fixed incomes can’t afford their medications, but also reduces the copay on insulin,” Zuckett said. “It puts additional federal subsidies on the Affordable Care Act so that people can afford to get insurance so more people will be able to afford insurance. More people will be able to afford their prescription drugs, and it’ll save lives.”

According to Zuckett, on average, 23,000 West Virginians with Affordable Care Act coverage will save $1,500 a year, thanks to measures in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Ellen Allen is the director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. She called the IRA a historic investment into the U.S. health care system.

“Inflation reduction lowers health insurance premiums, caps the amount of money families pay for health insurance,” Allen said. “It lowers it so much that a middle-class family of four can see a reduction in yearly premiums over $18,000. Now that is meaningful, that is really meaningful. And West Virginians need to know about this, we need to talk about this and how it impacts our families on the ground.”

According to Allen, there are over 319,000 West Virginians who will benefit from Medicare being empowered to negotiate drug prices. By 2030, there will be 80 prescription drugs that Medicare will be able to price negotiate.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.