Feds working to drive down NC prescription medication costs

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RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Wake County on Friday to champion the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

Since the expansion in December, state health leaders say more than 360,000 have signed up for coverage. The expansion allows people who previously made too little to afford health care coverage on their own but too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid to be covered.

“Whether its a baby born or whether it’s a senior that worked decades now needing healthcare, it should be affordable,” Becerra said.

Of those who have signed up, state health officials say a large portion live in rural areas. Many still face challenges getting to a doctor’s office but NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley says a new pilot program is helping pay for transportation and housing needs to bridge the gap.

“That’s currently operating in 33 counties in North Carolina as part of a pilot- something we’re working hard on and we want to take statewide because those dollars will help people connect with the care they so desperately need,” Kinsley said.

Also facing patients is the price of prescription medication. Secretary Becerra’s team is currently negotiating with drug makers to lower prices for 10 select medications related to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

“These are drugs that can cost you in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars per treatment. We’re hoping to hear soon if drug companies are going to accept or counter and by September, we’ll be announcing the prices,” said Becerra.

Becerra said those new prices will not go into effect until at least Jan. 2026.

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