Monthly Archives

February 2022

As President Biden Fights to Lower Drug Prices, New Data Underscores Need for Congressional Action

Kaiser Report Reveals Massive Price Hikes on Prescription Drugs Amid Worries About Inflation

Washington, DC — New data from the Kaiser Families Foundation revealed that half of drugs covered by Medicare saw price increases greater than inflation in 2020. The news comes ahead of the State of the Union address, where President Biden is expected to urge Congress to prioritize lowering the cost of prescription drug prices. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“The numbers released today confirm what we already know to be true: drug prices are too damn high. Big drug companies have gone unchecked for far too long, and families across the country are struggling to afford the medications they need to survive. Price hikes outpacing inflation take more money out of patients’ pockets and raise health care costs across the board. Lowering drug prices is among the most important actions Congress can take to lower the cost of living for the American people. As Democrats move forward on negotiations for their economic proposal, it is imperative that they continue to prioritize addressing drug prices.”

A Year of Accomplishments: President Biden Is Lowering the Cost of Health Care, Expanding Coverage, and Leading Us Out Of The Pandemic 

Washington, DC — Tomorrow, President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address. From day one, President Biden has put the health and well-being of Americans first. His administration immediately took steps to reverse the health care sabotage of the Trump administration by opening a special enrollment period, restoring critical funding in health care education and outreach, and making premiums more affordable than ever. As a result, 5.8 million people became newly insured, and millions more were able to save hundreds of dollars per month on their health care.

In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which put money into the pockets of families struggling to make ends meet, delivered robust funding for vaccine distribution, and helped safely reopen schools and the economy. Importantly, the American Rescue Plan included historic measures to drive down health care costs for millions of Americans. The law’s enhanced premium tax credits allowed more than three million Americans to find a plan for $10 or less per month.  In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“President Biden has fought tirelessly to end the pandemic and lower everyday costs for American families. When President Biden took office, only 1.6 million Americans were fully vaccinated, but today, more than 215 million Americans are fully vaccinated and 93 million are boosted. By listening to the experts and following the science, President Biden has always prioritized keeping families safe, creating jobs, and delivering relief to working families through common sense measures designed to help get America back on track.

“President Biden’s hard work is already paying off. A record number of Americans have signed up for coverage during the 2022 open enrollment period, giving millions of people peace of mind knowing they can afford the health care they need. It is clear that health care remains Democrats’ top priority as they work to lower premium costs, reduce drug prices, expand coverage, and improve health care for seniors. As we celebrate the accomplishments of the Biden administration, we can look forward to even brighter days ahead.”

Strengthening Health Care:

  1. More Than 30 Million Americans Now Have Health Coverage. Because of the combined force of the ACA and ARP, more than 30 million Americans now have health coverage through the Marketplace, Medicaid, or CHIP.
  2. More Than 14.5 Million People Have Coverage Through The Individual Market. In 2021, 14.5 million people signed up for health coverage through the ACA Marketplace. This is the highest number of Americans to ever enroll in a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and it is thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. 3.2 million Americans now have health coverage for less than $10 per month. Premium savings under the American Rescue Plan benefit all Americans, with families now saving an average of $2,400 a year on their health insurance premiums.
  3. No One Pays More Than 8.5 Percent Of Their Income For Health Coverage. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan builds on the ACA by ensuring enrollees have the option to purchase health care for less than 8.5 percent of their income. Previously, families earning just above 400 percent of the federal poverty level spent an average of 15 percent of their incomes on health insurance. 
  4. More Affordable Coverage For ALL Americans. The American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded the eligibility for premium tax credits above 400 percent of the federal poverty level — roughly $51,000 for a single person or $105,000 for a family of four. 
  5. Zero Dollar Premiums For Low-Wage Workers. The American Rescue Plan eliminated premiums for Americans earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $19,000 for a single person and $39,000 for a family of four) who buy their coverage on the Marketplace and for those receiving unemployment insurance due to the pandemic.
  6. One In Four Americans Are Now Covered By Medicaid & CHIP. 12.5 million Americans were able to enroll in Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the total number of enrollees to an all time high of 83.2 million. Reporting on the increase, The New York Times stated, “The spike in enrollment demonstrates Medicaid’s increasingly important role not just as a safety net, but also as a pillar of the American health system.” President Biden understands the critical roles Medicaid and CHIP play in American health care, which is why he has been a fierce advocate for the expansion and strengthening of Medicaid. Between February and November 2020, states that expanded their programs saw a 22 percent increase in Medicaid enrollment. Additional research has shown that Medicaid expansion states were better positioned to handle the economic fallout of the pandemic, with fewer residents becoming uninsured. 
  7. Increased Medicaid Access. President Biden understands that health care is a right, not a privilege. In 2021, he kept his promise to roll back discriminatory Medicaid work requirements that create unnecessary obstacles for low-income individuals seeking access to affordable, quality health coverage. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have repeatedly stated that the vast majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are employed, ill, or disabled. The Biden Administration’s quick action put a permanent stop to these requirements in 12 states that received waivers under the previous administration. 
  8. Improving Maternal Health Access. The American Rescue Plan created a pathway to coverage for pregnant Americans, allowing states to extend postpartum coverage under Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months following pregnancy. The United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world, with 12 percent of maternal deaths occurring between six weeks and one year following delivery, after Medicaid coverage has ended. These numbers demonstrate the immense need for continuous health coverage for a minimum of one year following the birth of a child. 

Leading Us Out Of The Pandemic, Giving Americans the Tools They Need:

  1. Shots in Arms. 76 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 65 percent are fully vaccinated. Over 93 million Americans have received a booster shot, providing the best protection against the omicron variant. The Biden Administration has made booster shots free and convenient at over 80,000 locations nationwide. Vaccines are our best tool to prevent severe sickness and death from all variants of Covid-19 and they have already prevented 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million additional Covid hospitalizations. 
  2. New Access To Therapeutic Drugs And High Quality Masks. On January 4, President Biden announced that the federal government doubled the U.S.’ order for Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill, Paxlovid, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and severe illness significantly, another vital tool for reducing suffering and bringing the pandemic to an end. Twenty million doses of Paxlovid continue to be delivered across the country, with the first shipments sent to hospitals on Christmas Eve. In the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, the Biden administration distributed 400 million free, high-quality N95 masks at thousands of sites around the country.
  3. Increased Testing. Since taking office, the Biden administration has taken numerous steps to increase Americans’ access to vital Covid-19 testing, both at home and at testing sites around the country.  There are more than 20,000 free testing sites around the country, including new federal sites deployed in response to the omicron variant surge. Four times as many rapid tests are available for Americans to use at home than were available last summer, and the administration’s wildly successful distribution of half-billion rapid tests this winter provided four free tests to every American household upon request, in addition to an earlier rule requiring insurance companies to reimburse members for their purchase of rapid tests. 
  4. Schools Open. Thanks to the efforts of the Biden administration to provide safe and effective vaccines for students, and funding for masks and ventilation in schools, nearly 100 percent of American students were back in the classroom full time in December 2020, up from under three-quarters at the end of last school year.  
  5. Workers Back To Work. The Biden administration has presided over the largest one year drop in the unemployment rate in U.S. history, and the creation of more than six million jobs, the most of any first year president in history. Despite the devastating Omicron surge, the addition of 467,000 jobs in January served as a strong signal that the economy continues to move in the right direction under President Biden. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the success of the vaccination program, workers are able to go back to work more safely and confidently.  

The State Of Our Union Today And When President Biden Took Office:

Vaccinations. President Biden’s science based approach to the pandemic inspired confidence in America’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Due to his leadership, vaccinations prevented more than one million deaths and more than 10 million COVID hospitalizations by November of 2021.

Schools. Thanks to funds from the ARP, schools had the tools necessary to stay open and mitigate risk, even during the Omicron surge. 

Jobs. The American economy is currently on track to recoup all of the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2022. Without the ARP, it would have taken the U.S. an additional four years to recover economically.

TODAY: Senator Reverend Warnock to Visit Metro Atlanta Pharmacy to Highlight Efforts to Lower Insulin Costs

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23 AT 1:30 PM ET***

Atlanta, GA — Today, February 28, 2022 at 1:30 PM ET, Senator Warnock will travel to a metro Atlanta pharmacy to hold a listening session with Georgians with diabetes, health care professionals and diabetes advocates to discuss his new proposal to limit out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35 per month. 

Earlier this month, Senator Warnock introduced the Affordable Insulin Now Act, which is expected to lower insulin costs for many of the over one million Georgia patients living with diabetes; these patients represent more than 12% of the state’s adult population.

LISTENING SESSION:

WHO:
U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA)
Georgians with diabetes, health care professionals, and diabetes advocates

WHAT: Listening Session to Highlight Senator Warnock’s Affordable Insulin Now Act, Legislation to Cap Out-Of-Pockets Costs for Insulin

WHERE: Metro Atlanta area. Interested media may Register for the Event Here. Addresses and additional logistical information will be sent to RSVP’d outlets.
Please direct any additional questions to [email protected].

WHEN: Wednesday, February 23 at 1:30 PM ET **exact timing subject to change**

TODAY: Ahead of State of the Union Address, Rep. Susan Wild, Health Care Advocates to Discuss Urgent Need to Pass Health Care Reforms 

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28 AT 10:30 AM ET***

Pennsylvanians Are Eager to Hear President Biden’s Plans to Lower Rx Drug Prices and Expand Access to Affordable Health Care 

Philadelphia, PA — Today, February 28, 2022 at 10:30AM ET, Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07) will join For Our Future, The 99 Percent Campaign, SEIU Healthcare, the United Homecare Workers of PA, The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and Protect Our Care Pennsylvania to discuss what Pennsylvanians hope to hear from President Biden when he delivers his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. 

President Biden and Democrats in Congress have made lowering costs and expanding access to health care a priority, and have been working hard to lower insurance premiums, give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, expand affordable coverage to millions by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, extend Medicare benefits, and to increase investment in care for seniors and people with disabilities. Provisions in the 2021 American Rescue Plan made coverage more affordable than ever before, with enhanced premium tax credits allowing four out of five eligible enrollees to find a plan for $10 or less per month. A record number of Americans signed up for coverage during the ACA open enrollment period, underscoring the need for Congress to make benefits such as the ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan permanent.

President Biden is expected to address the urgent need to pass these health care measures as soon as possible, and highlight the importance of lowering health care costs and expanding access, including home health care, for Pennsylvanians and millions of Americans across the country. 

PRESS EVENT:

WHO:
Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07)
Michael Berman, Protect Our Care Pennsylvania
Antoinette Kraus, The Pennsylvania Health Access Network
Nancy Miller from Bradford County, PA who cannot afford her arthritis medication
Erin Jenkins from Pittsburgh, PA who benefits from ARPA subsidies
For Our Future PA
The 99 Percent Campaign
SEIU Healthcare
The United Homecare Workers of PA

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

WHEN: Monday, February 28 at 10:30 AM ET

TODAY: Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Ohio Leaders Join Protect Our Care Ahead of State of the Union Address to Discuss Urgent Need to Pass Health Care Reforms

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25 AT 12:00 PM ET***

Columbus, OH — Today, February 25, 2022 at 12:00 PM ET, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), State Representative Emilia Sykes, and local leaders will join Protect Our Care Ohio for a press call to discuss what Ohioans hope to hear from President Biden on health care at his first State of the Union Address on March 1. 

President Biden and Democrats in Congress have made lowering costs and expanding access to health care a priority, and have been working hard to lower insurance premiums, give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, extend Medicare benefits, and invest in care for seniors and people with disabilities.

Provisions in the 2021 American Rescue Plan made coverage more affordable than ever before, with enhanced premium tax credits allowing four out of five eligible enrollees to find a plan for $10 or less per month. A record number of Americans signed up for coverage during the ACA open enrollment period, underscoring the need for Congress to make benefits such as the ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan permanent. President Biden is expected to address the urgent need to pass these health care measures and others as soon as possible, and highlight the importance of lowering health care costs for Ohioans and millions of Americans across the country. 

PRESS CALL:

WHO:
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09)
State Representative Emilia Sykes
Columbus City Councilmember Lourdes Barroso de Padilla
Norm Wernet, Alliance for Retired Americans Ohio President 

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference 

WHERE: Register for the Event Here

WHEN: Friday, February 25 at 12:00 PM ET

Ahead of State of the Union Address, West Virginians Discuss Urgent Need to Pass Health Care Reforms

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24 AT 11:00 AM ET***

West Virginians Are Eager to Hear President Biden’s Plans to Lower Rx Drug Prices and Expand Access to Affordable Health Care  

West Virginia — On Thursday, February 24th at 11:00 AM, health care advocates will join Protect Our Care WV to discuss what West Virginians hope to hear from President Biden when he delivers his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1. President Biden and Democrats in Congress have made lowering costs and expanding access to health care a priority, and have been working hard to lower insurance premiums, give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, expand affordable coverage to millions by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, extend Medicare benefits, and invest in care for seniors and people with disabilities. 

Provisions in the 2021 American Rescue Plan made coverage more affordable than ever before, with enhanced premium tax credits allowing four out of five eligible enrollees to find a plan for $10 or less per month. A record number of Americans signed up for coverage during the ACA open enrollment period, underscoring the need for Congress to make benefits such as the ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan permanent.

President Biden is expected to address the urgent need to pass these health care measures as soon as possible, and highlight the importance of lowering health care costs for West Virginians and millions of Americans across the country. 

WHO:

Rhonda Rogombe, WVCBP

Dr. Jessica Ice, WVAHC

Mindy Salango, patient advocate

Lynette Maselli, Protect Our Care WV

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday, February 24th at 11:00 AM 

WHERE: Register to join the Zoom event (Registration required)

 

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NEW REPORT: How The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act Will Improve Maternal Health And Reduce Racial Disparities 

The Momnibus Act Is Needed Now More Than Ever As Newly Released Data Shows Maternal Mortality Disparities Worsened in 2020

Washington, DC — Today, Protect Our Care is releasing a new report in response to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics, revealing that the U.S. maternal mortality rate jumped from 20.1 per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 23.8 in 2020. This increase was primarily driven by disproportionate mortality rates among Black mothers. In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for Black women (55.3 per 100,000) was three times higher than the rate for white women (19.1 per 100,000) in 2020. The Momnibus Act, championed by Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14), includes critical investments to help address the systemic causes of the nation’s high maternal mortality rate. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“It is unfathomable that in the wealthiest nation on earth, our mothers are dying from  preventable causes. The racial disparities in maternal mortality have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the latest data confirms that this crisis is only getting worse without meaningful intervention. The Momnibus Act is a critical step toward ending the maternal mortality crisis and improving the health and well-being of mothers and babies. The Momnibus provisions have broad, bipartisan support, and Congress should do everything in its power to pass this legislation.”

KEY POINTS:

  • The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of the industrialized world. Women in the United States suffer from maternal mortality at a rate twice that of other industrialized nations, with health outcomes worsening over the last two decades. In 2020, the maternal mortality rate in the United States rose to 861 deaths, up from 754 in 2019.
  • Women of color are acutely impacted by the maternal mortality crisis. Systemic racism and its direct impacts on the health care system, create dangerous and deadly outcomes for women of color, particularly Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women. The racial disparities in maternal health between Black and white women are at the same rate recorded in the 1940s.
  • The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act investments will provide funding to address the root causes of maternal mortality. The Momnibus will provide funding to address social determinants of health, invest in health equity research and practices, and provide health care workers with the necessary tools to confront discriminatory and biased practices.

Read the full report here. 

Rep. Wild, AARP Urge Lawmakers to Act Now to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Watch the Full Event Here.

Washington, D.C. — This morning, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) and AARP’s Nancy LeaMond joined Protect Our Care to discuss the ongoing efforts to ensure that Congress passes legislation to bring down prescription drug prices. Representative Wild recently led a letter alongside 40 House Democrats urging Congress to move quickly to pass drug pricing legislation. President Biden has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to bringing down drug prices to lower the cost of living for Americans. 

“Lowering the costs of prescription drugs needs to be our number one priority in Congress,” said Representative Susan Wild (PA-07). “There is still a lot of work left to do to lower drug costs that have been too high for too long. Until Congress passes robust legislation to tackle these reforms, drug prices will continue to skyrocket, and millions of Americans will continue to make the impossible decision between putting food on the table for their families or purchasing their lifesaving medications.”

“For too many years, seniors have been forced to choose between the medicines they need and paying for other essentials like rent and food. They are sick and tired of waiting for Congress to act. Congress has promised for years to address the price of prescription drugs. Now is the time to get the job done,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer.

“At the end of this past year, I was at the point of possibly losing my COBRA insurance and having to figure out how I was going to be paying my medical bills,” said Sarah Opatovsky, patient storyteller from Bethlehem, PA. “We shouldn’t have a system where people rely on charity if they can’t afford their medical bills. The free market does not work when the consumer doesn’t have a real choice between taking medication or not.  We have to tackle the issue of why these prices are being charged in the first place by pharmaceutical companies.”

“Addressing high drug prices is the single most important thing lawmakers can do to lower the cost of living for families,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Democrats, Republicans, and independents overwhelmingly support giving Medicare the power to negotiate, capping seniors’ out-of pocket costs, limiting insulin costs, and cracking down on outrageous price hikes. Support for ending big drug company greed has only grown, and we are confident that under the strong leadership of President Biden and health care champions like Rep. Wild, we will get all of these measures to lower drug prices over the finish line.”

PRESS CALL: Congressman Gallego to Join Protect Our Care to Discuss Urgent Need to Lower Health Care Costs 

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 AT 1:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM MT***

Arizonans Are Eager to Hear President Biden’s Plans to Lower Rx Drug Prices and Expand Access to Affordable Health Care

Phoenix, AZ — On Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 1:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM MT, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07), State Senator Raquel Terán, and State Representative Melody Hernandez, will join local advocates and Protect Our Care Arizona at the state Capitol to discuss what Arizonans hope to hear from President Biden when he delivers his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. President Biden and the Democrats in Congress have made lowering costs and expanding access to health care a priority, and have been working hard to lower insurance premiums, give Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices, expand affordable coverage to millions by closing the Medicaid coverage gap, extend Medicare benefits, and invest in care for seniors and people with disabilities. 

Provisions in the 2021 American Rescue Plan made coverage more affordable than ever before, with enhanced premium tax credits allowing four out of five eligible enrollees to find a plan for $10 or less per month. A record number of Americans signed up for coverage during the ACA open enrollment period, underscoring the need for Congress to make benefits such as the ACA subsidies in the American Rescue Plan permanent.

President Biden is expected to address the urgent need to pass these health care measures as soon as possible, and highlight the importance of lowering health care costs for Arizonans and millions of Americans across the country. 

PRESS EVENT:

WHO:
Congressman Ruben Gallego, (D-AZ-07)
Arizona State Senator Raquel Terán
Arizona State Representative Melody Hernandez
Iesha Meza, Arizona patient and advocate
Kathy Saulsberry, Arizona patient and advocate

WHAT: Arizona Press Conference 

WHERE:
Arizona State Capitol
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

WHEN: Wednesday, February 23 at 1:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM MT

PRESS CALL: Rep. Wild and AARP to Join Protect Our Care to Call for Lower Drug Prices for the American People 

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 AT 9:30 AM ET***

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, February 23, 2022, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) and AARP’s Nancy LeaMond will join Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss the ongoing efforts to ensure that Congress passes legislation to bring down prescription drug prices. Representative Wild has been a tireless advocate for lowering drug prices, most recently leading a letter alongside 40 House Democrats urging leadership move as quickly as possible to address the problem. President Biden has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to bringing down drug prices to lower the cost of living for Americans. 

During the call, speakers will call for passing all of the drug pricing provisions in the House-passed Build Back Better Act, including giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, limiting insulin prices for diabetics, capping out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and limiting outrageous price hikes. All of these polices enjoy overwhelming support from voters and would dramatically bring down health care costs for families. 

PRESS CALL:

WHO:
U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07)
Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer and Executive Vice President at AARP
Sarah Opatovsky, constituent storyteller
Leslie Dach, Chair of Protect Our Care

WHAT: Virtual Press Conference 

WHEN: Wednesday, February 23 at 9:30 AM ET

WHERE: Register for the Event Here