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Democrats' Big Bill Includes Important Medicare Provisions

Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the Democrats' legislation on prescription drugs, climate change and deficit reduction—the Inflation Reduction Act. The Senate, after finally brokering a deal with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to reach 50 votes, passed the sweeping legislation last week with the 51st vote coming from Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrats only needed 51 votes for passage because they used the budget reconciliation process to advance the bill.
 
The health provisions in the reconciliation bill include:
  • directing the HHS Secretary to negotiate the price of 10 drugs covered by Medicare starting in four years (increasing to 20 drugs in 2029), based on the 10 drugs Medicare spent the most on in the previous year;
  • capping out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 annually beginning in 2025;
  • capping at $35 the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries;
  • making vaccines free in Medicare beginning next year;
  • beginning in 2024, increasing the income limit for Medicare LIS to 150% of the federal poverty level, up from the current 135 percent, making hundreds of thousands more beneficiaries eligible for the subsidies; and
  • extending by three years enhanced subsidies in the Affordable Care Act that keep premiums affordable and were set to expire at year's end.
The passage of the measure, which also included provisions to address climate change, reduce the deficit and upgrade the IRS's computer systems, was a long-sought but oft-paused victory for the White House and Congress. While a pale shadow of the multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better proposal initially desired (including the lack of Older Americans Act, Medicaid HCBS and other provisions originally in the larger bill that USAging championed), the measure represents the best that Democrats can achieve on party lines at this point in time.
 
USAging will continue to review the legislation and share any key updates with our members in future newsletters and other communications.
 
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