Monthly Archives

June 2022

HEADLINES: Senate Democrats See “Major Progress” on Reconciliation With Agreement to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Senate Democrats have finalized provisions to lower prescription drug prices. The agreement includes granting Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, capping the out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and penalizing drug companies that raise prices faster than inflation. Coverage makes it clear that these provisions would reduce prescription drug costs for people all across the country.

News Stories

Washington Post: Democrats Forge Ahead On Drug Pricing. “Democratic leaders have finalized a revised proposal to lower prescription drug prices for seniors…Under the proposal, the drug negotiations are set to begin in 2023…Democrats also have preserved plans to cap seniors’ drug costs under Medicare at $2,000 each year, while penalizing companies that raise prescription prices faster than inflation….For the first time, though, Democrats newly aim to close what they see as a loophole that might have allowed future administrations to refrain from negotiating aggressively…The move is meant to ensure the government still seeks to keep drug prices down even if control of Washington changes…” [Washington Post, 6/30/22]

NBC: Senate Democrats See ‘Major Progress’ On Biden Agenda Bill, Hope For July Vote. “The emerging deal would empower Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices starting next year to lower costs for consumers. It would cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients at $2,000 per year and allow the cap to be broken up into monthly payments. It also would impose a new ‘inflation rebate’ policy forcing drug companies to send money back to consumers if they raise prices above inflation…the deal would add new incentives for drugmakers and insurers to limit drug price hikes, provide free vaccines for seniors, enhance premium and copay assistance for lower-income people and ensure the Department of Health and Human Services always negotiates for the maximum number of eligible drugs. And it would require negotiations to lower prices ‘if a drug company continues to block generic competition,’…Manchin’s office said Wednesday there is consensus and a path forward on drug pricing.” [NBC, 6/29/22]

STAT: Democrats Tweak Their Drug Pricing Plan In Last-Ditch Effort To Pass Reforms. “Negotiations have come a long way…Now, it’s the most solid plank of a potential deal that both Schumer and Manchin agree on. Drug pricing reform is enormously politically popular, and also would save the federal government money….The package would mandate Medicare negotiate drug prices, even if there’s an official in charge of Medicare that doesn’t support negotiation — as would likely be the case under a Republican president.” [STAT, 6/30/22]

The Hill: Senate Democrats Push Revised Drug Pricing Plan As They Prep Larger Biden Economic Package. “Lawmakers have made some revisions to a deal to lower drug prices and plan to submit it to the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days for a review…The move is a sign of Democrats’ preparations for a vote on Biden’s signature domestic policy package, which will have lowering drug prices at the center.” [The Hill, 6/30/22]

Statements

Protect Our Care: “The agreement reached by Senate Democrats to drive down prescription drug prices is a victory for the American people. Allowing Medicare to negotiate, limiting onerous price hikes, and capping seniors’ drug costs are vital to fixing the broken system that all too often forces patients to choose between paying the bills and affording the drugs they need.” [6/30/22]

Patients For Affordable Drugs Now: “For the first time, Medicare will be able to negotiate lower drug prices directly with drug corporations, penalties will be imposed on companies that raise prices faster than the rate of inflation, and there will be an annual out-of-pocket cap for beneficiaries in Medicare Part D. Each of these changes will help bring relief from unrelenting high drug prices in the United States, which run almost four times what other nations pay for the same brand-name drugs. Americans — Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike — overwhelmingly support these reforms…” [6/30/22]

AARP: “This is monumental and years in the making. For far too long, America’s seniors have been paying the highest prices in the world for their medications…Lowering prescription drug prices is the number one health issue Americans want Congress to tackle this year, and with this announcement, they are even closer to making that a reality.” [6/29/22]

Tweets

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): “There is no public policy more popular – or more of a clear contrast between Democrats and Republicans – than Medicare drug negotiation.” [@ChrisMurphyCT, 6/29/22]

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI): “Reducing the cost of medicine would be a huge win for people across the country.” [@BrianSchatz, 6/29/22]

AARP Advocates: “AARP is pleased that the Senate is ready to take action on a reconciliation package that includes allowing Medicare to be able to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs.” [@AARPAdvocates, 6/29/22]

David Mitchell, Patients For Affordable Drugs Founder: “Senate Democrats are moving on comprehensive reform to lower Rx drug prices. The votes are there to pass it under reconciliation. It will help millions of Americans. We have momentum & the overwhelming support of voters. Let’s get it done.” [@DavidP4AD, 6/29/22]

Senate Takes Important Step Forward to Lower Prescription Drug Costs for Families

Senate Democrats’ Agreement Includes Giving Medicare the Power to Negotiate Drug Prices

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that Senate Democrats have finalized provisions to lower prescription drug prices. The agreement includes giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices, capping seniors out-of-pocket drug costs, and penalizing drug companies that raise prices faster than inflation. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“The agreement reached by Senate Democrats to drive down prescription drug prices is a victory for the American people. Allowing Medicare to negotiate, limiting onerous price hikes, and capping seniors’ drug costs are vital to fixing the broken system that all too often forces patients to choose between paying the bills and affording the drugs they need. While Republicans stand by Big Pharma and fight to maintain the status quo, Democrats are focused on delivering real relief to patients and reducing their health care costs. The drug pricing deal is a promising first step as the Senate continues to negotiate the rest of the budget reconciliation package, and we continue to advocate strongly for additional health care reforms to deliver lower costs and expanded coverage for families.” 

Governors Plead for Congressional Action to Prevent Health Premium Hikes

Washington, DC — This week, 14 Democratic governors from across the nation wrote a letter to congressional leadership, urging them to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits that are set to expire at the end of this year. The governors warned of a “disastrous erosion of health insurance coverage” if Congress fails to take action, noting that more than three million Americans could lose their insurance and costs would go up for millions more. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“These governors are on the ground and recognize the importance of the tax credits to the health and economy of their communities. At a time families are worried about inflation, raising health care costs would be devastating. Insurers are already filing their premium rates for next year, which means it is imperative Congress take swift action to ensure millions of people can continue to afford their health coverage.”

Protect Our Care Hosts APTC Day of Action Urging Congress to Act Quickly to Stop Health Insurance Premium Increases 

Protect Our Care and Allies Called on Congress to Extend ARP Savings via Press Call, Video, and Social Media

Last week, Protect Our Care partnered with health care activists, advocacy groups, and concerned citizens for an APTC day of action to call on Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits. Protect Our Care hosted a press call with Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05) and Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), engaged social media campaigns, and amplified the stories of Americans who will be impacted if Congress fails to act urgently to keep health care premiums low.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan saved families thousands on their premiums, driving record enrollment and giving people breathing room to pay for other necessities. But the expanded tax credits that powered those savings are set to expire at the end of the year, and as a result, millions will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums — many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. Last November, House Democrats ​​passed legislation to prevent premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year. Now, Senate Democrats must extend the premium tax credits to ensure hardworking families can continue to access the health care they need.

PROTECT OUR CARE ACTIVITIES

Throughout May and June, ​​Protect Our Care held events with Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05) and Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14), state and local officials, allies, and health care storytellers to discuss the urgent need for Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits and highlight recent efforts to pass legislation to prevent premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year. Read more about Protect Our Care’s May and June events.

PRESS CALL: Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05) and Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) joined Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss the urgent need for Congress to prevent the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits from expiring. Along with Dr. Jessica Ice, a patient storyteller from West Virginia, speakers laid out the case for why it’s critical to keep premiums low for working families in the face of inflation and rising costs. Listen to the call here.

NEW VIDEO: Protect Our Care released a video, featuring health care storytellers who explained how the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits changed their lives. The storytellers also discussed the dire consequences if Congress fails to act urgently to keep the tax credits from expiring. Watch the full video here.

PARTNER ACTIVITIES

AARP LETTER: Leading health groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and AARP, published a letter calling on Congress to extend the expanded Affordable Care Act health care premium tax credits. If Congress fails to act, enrollees’ premiums will increase by double digit levels, resulting in at least 3 million more uninsured Americans who will be unable to afford the care they need. Read the full letter here.

FAMILIES USA: The Advanced Premium Tax Credits… made health insurance more affordable than ever, helped families, and reduced racial disparities. Congress must act NOW.” #APTCDayOfAction [@FamiliesUSA, 6/23/22]

HHS FACT SHEET: The U.S. Department of Human & Health Services released a fact sheet explaining what will happen if Congress allows the premium tax credits to expire. If Congress does not extend the ARP, HHS analysis projects that: the number of uninsured Americans will increase significantly —nearly 3 million Americans could lose their health insurance entirely. Read the full fact sheet here.

INNOVATION OHIO: Last year, Democrats delivered lower health insurance premiums for people who buy insurance on their own. Congress must act NOW to protect the millions on the verge of losing their coverage if the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits expire. #APTC #APTCDayOfAction [@innovationohio, 6/23/22]

JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS REPORT: The Joint Economic Committee Democrats released a new report that shows how Democrats cut health care costs and expanded access to affordable health insurance. The American Rescue Plan’s expanded tax credits have already helped 5.8 million Americans newly enroll in free or affordable health plans since the start of the Biden Administration. Congress must act now to extend them. Read the full report here.

NBJC: “Health coverage access is imperative to reducing racial disparities in health coverage across the nation. The American Rescue Plan expanded that access – we CANNOT take that away.” [@NBJContheMove, 6/23/22]

WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE: “Millions of Americans are counting on Congress to extend the #AmericanRescuePlan’s enhanced ACA premium tax credits, which made health coverage more accessible & affordable than ever before. Ways & Means is ready to deliver.” [@WaysMeansCmte, 6/23/22]

Protect Our Care Applauds Biden-Harris Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis

The Biden-Harris Administration Plan Will Address the Maternal Health Crisis And Protect the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Mothers in the Wake of the Roe Decision

Washington, DC — The White House released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a government-wide strategy to cut the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity and reduce disparities among maternal health outcomes. Complications related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum leads to hundreds of deaths each year. This maternal health crisis is particularly devastating for Black women, American Indian and Alaska Native women, and women in rural communities who all experience maternal mortality and morbidity at significantly higher rates than their white and urban counterparts. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, expanding and protecting maternal health care is more important than ever. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“This blueprint is a beacon of hope amidst the devastating news of Roe v. Wade being overturned. By eliminating Medicaid coverage gaps, diversifying the perinatal workforce, strengthening the social and economic support for pregnancy, this plan will help reduce stark inequities in maternal health outcomes. Meanwhile, Republicans have made clear they oppose any meaningful measures to combat the maternal mortality crisis, by undermining access to contraception and preventive services and fighting legislation to drive down health care costs and expand affordable care. With the rights to a safe and legal abortion being stripped from more than half the country, enacting measures to protect maternal health is vital. This blueprint affirms the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to the safety and protection of women.

Protect Our Care Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Washington, DC — Today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and revoking health care rights for millions of women across the nation. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Today, the highest court in the land solidified its attack on fundamental human rights. By voting to overturn Roe, the Trump-appointed justices lied to the American people, disregarded the Constitution, and created a health care crisis. This decision will kickstart a wave of laws banning abortion, stripping millions of control of their own bodies and their right to safe access to care. 

“Every Republican lawmaker who voted for these justices owns this decision, and Americans will hold them accountable. The elected officials who want to ban abortions are the same people who refuse to support the Momnibus legislation, which would combat infant and maternal mortality crisis, oppose Medicaid expansion, which has proven to improve health outcomes for mothers and their babies, and are fighting common sense reforms to lower the cost of health care for working families. We won’t give up the fight until access to safe, quality health care — including reproductive care — is a right for every American.

“Allowing Costs to Go Up Is Not Acceptable”: Majority Leader Hoyer and Rep. Underwood Joined Protect Our Care to Discuss Dire Need for Congress to Prevent Health Care Premium Hikes

Listen to the Call Here.

Washington, DC — Today, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05) and Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) joined Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss the urgent need for Congress to prevent the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits from expiring. Along with Dr. Jessica Ice, a patient storyteller from West Virginia, speakers laid out the case for why it’s critical to keep premiums low for working families in the face of inflation and rising costs.

The event comes as health care activists, advocacy groups and concerned citizens across the country engage in Protect Our Care’s day of action calling on Congress to act urgently to extend the American Rescue Plan’s tax credits. Watch Protect Our Care’s new video featuring patients who depend on the tax credits here

“When Democrats enacted the American Rescue Plan, we expanded premium tax credit eligibility and brought down premiums for those already receiving subsidies. This led to a record 14.5 million Americans signing up for marketplace coverage. When Senators reach an agreement on a path forward for reconciliation, it must include extending these tax credits,” said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer. “Inflation is causing great shock at the pumps and in grocery stores — we must not let the costs of health care go up as well. We cannot miss this chance to bring down health care costs and provide affordable, accessible health care coverage for so many.” 

“Fundamentally, health care is a human right, and we can’t afford to backslide on the progress we’ve made on health care affordability,” said U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood. “My provision in the American Rescue Plan provided tax credits to lower premium costs for two years – which means that this affordability expansion is set to expire at the end of this year. It is time for the Senate to join us in delivering on this promise to the American people and ensure everyone has access to affordable, high-quality health coverage.”

“I’m not just an advocate for my job. For me personally, my premiums went from $800 a month to under $600 because of the enhanced premium tax credits that came with the American Rescue Plan. For my family, this translates into money for food, utilities, and frankly, money for other health care that we need,” said Dr. Jessica Ice, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and patient storyteller from West Virginia. “If we do not continue these enhanced premium tax credits, the data shows us there will be big financial hits for West Virginia families and families across the nation.” 

“Lowering health care costs is a clear way to ease the burden on working families struggling with inflation,” said Protect Our Care Communications Director Anne Shoup. “If Congress fails to extend the American Rescue Plan’s tax credits, millions could pay thousands more on their health insurance premiums, and as many as three million people are at-risk of losing coverage altogether. We can’t let that happen.”

Protect Our Care Applauds HHS for its Approval of the “Colorado Option”

The Biden Administration’s Approval of the Colorado Option Will Extend Health Coverage and Lower Costs for Thousands of Families 

Washington, DC —Today, the Biden administration announced the approval of the “Colorado Option,” Colorado’s state-based health insurance plan, which will be available on the state’s health insurance marketplace, will increase enrollment and lower health care costs for thousands of Coloradans. In addition to saving money for consumers, the Colorado Option is also projected to save the federal government millions of dollars, and those funds will be shared with the state to reinvest in health initiatives. Under the Colorado Option, 10,000 Coloradans will save on their insurance costs beginning in 2023. In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement: 

“The approval of Colorado’s waiver is a monumental step forward in making health care more affordable for the American people. Under the Colorado Option, thousands of residents will save on their insurance costs and gain access to the health care they need. Approving Colorado’s program paves the way for other states to implement similar measures to make health care more accessible. Today’s announcement only confirms the Biden administration’s commitment to delivering lower costs, advancing health equity, and making health care a right for every American.”

PRESS CALL: Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Rep. Lauren Underwood to Join Protect Our Care to Discuss Dire Need for Congress to Prevent Health Care Premium Hikes

***MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURSDAY JUNE 23 AT 1:00 PM ET // 12:00 PM CT***

Washington, DC — On Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 1:00 PM ET // 12:00 PM CT, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05) and Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) will join Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss the urgent need for Congress to prevent the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits from expiring. The event comes as health care activists, advocacy groups and concerned citizens across the country engage in Protect Our Care’s day of action calling on Congress to act urgently to keep health care premiums low. 

Last year, a record 14.5 million people signed up for coverage through the ACA marketplaces thanks in large part to the enhanced tax credits, which saved families hundreds of dollars on their monthly health care costs. Now, Democrats are fighting to extend these tax credits for working families — but if Congress fails to act, premiums will skyrocket at the end of this year. The press call makes clear, lawmakers must act now to ensure working families can continue to afford the health care they need. 

PRESS CALL:

WHO:
Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-05)
U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14)
Dr. Jessica Ice, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and APTC storyteller from West Virginia
Anne Shoup, Protect Our Care

WHAT: Press Call to Discuss Urgent Need to Stop Health Care Premium Hikes

WHERE: Dial-In: 877-229-8493; Pin: 118261

WHEN: Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 1:00 PM ET // 12:00 PM CT

Protect Our Care Hosts Day of Action Urging Congress to Stop Health Insurance Premium Hikes

Congress Must Act Now to Extend ARP Premium Savings and Protect the Progress Made in the Fight for Affordable Health Care 

Washington, DC — On Thursday, June 23, 2022, Protect Our Care will partner with health care activists, advocacy groups, and concerned citizens for a day of action to sound the alarm on health insurance premium hikes and call on Congress to extend the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits. As part of the day of action, Protect Our Care and allies will engage social media campaigns, make calls to key members of Congress, and amplify the stories of Americans who will be impacted if Congress fails to act urgently to keep health care premiums low.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan saved families thousands on their premiums, driving record enrollment and giving people breathing room to pay for other necessities. But the expanded tax credits that powered those savings are set to expire at the end of the year, and as a result, millions will see dramatic increases in their 2023 health insurance premiums — many will no longer be able to afford insurance at all. Last November, House Democrats ​​passed legislation to prevent premiums from skyrocketing at the end of this year. Now, congress must extend the premium tax credits to ensure hardworking families can continue to access the health care they need.

“The nation is on the verge of a health care crisis. If lawmakers fail to act now, millions could pay thousands more on their health insurance premiums, and as many as three million people  are at-risk of losing coverage altogether,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Congress must extend the premium tax credits before it’s too late so families can continue to access the health care they need.” 

If Congress Fails to Act:

  • Millions Will Lose Coverage. More than 3 million people will become uninsured if the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits expire—increasing the number of uninsured Americans by 11 percent.
  • Premium Increases Will Be Widespread. Insurers are already pursuing double-digit premium increases. Nearly nine million Americans will retain their marketplace coverage but will be forced to pay significantly higher rates. 
  • Geographic And Racial Disparities Will Grow. Three states—Florida, Georgia, and Texas—will make up half of the increase of uninsured Americans if the tax credits are allowed to lapse. Americans living in rural areas, like West Virginia, will suffer disproportionately, with premiums already an average of 10 percent higher than in urban areas. 

Additional Resources:
Day of Action: Congress Must Take Action Now to Stop Premium Hikes
HEADLINES: Congress Faces a Health Care “Fiasco” as American Rescue Plan Subsidies Are Set to Expire