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MEMO: The Build Back Better Act Will Transform Health Care for Millions of Americans

MEMORANDUM
TO: Interested Partners
FR: Protect Our Care
DT: November 5, 2021
MEMO: The Build Back Better Act Will Transform Health Care for Millions of Americans

The Build Back Better Act will be the most significant expansion of U.S. health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The legislation includes historic measures to lower the cost of prescription drugs and insurance premiums, extend affordable coverage to millions, expand Medicare benefits to cover hearing, and invest $150 billion in home care for seniors and people with disabilities. By passing Build Back Better, Democrats are proving their commitment to building a future where health care is a right, not a privilege.

Polling shows the health care measures in Build Back Better have nearly universal support, and voters of all parties want bold action on health care. 

Under The Build Back Better Act: 

  • 48 million Medicare Part D enrollees will have out of pocket costs for prescription drugs capped at $2,000 per year.
  • 9 million Americans will save on their monthly health insurance premiums
  • 2.2 million Americans currently in the Medicaid “coverage gap” will gain health coverage
  • 62 million Americans on Medicare will gain coverage for hearing
  • Medicare will have the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. By 2030, more than 100 drugs will be eligible for Medicare price negotiation, in addition to insulin products.
  • ALL Americans will be protected from Big Pharma’s arbitrary price hikes that rise faster than inflation

Build Back Better Lowers Prescription Drug Prices

Giving Medicare The Power To Negotiate Lower Drug Prices. For nearly 20 years, Medicare has been banned from negotiating the price of prescription drugs, and Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Americans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries. Under Build Back Better, Medicare will be empowered to negotiate prices for select drugs purchased at the pharmacy counter and administered at a doctor’s office. Beginning in 2025, 10 drugs, in addition to insulin, will be negotiated with that number increasing to 15 drugs in 2026, and 20 drugs in 2028 and into the future. By 2030, more than 100 drugs will be eligible for Medicare price negotiation, in addition to insulin products. Drug companies who refuse to come to the negotiating table will be subject to an excise tax.

Capping Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Seniors. Seniors with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis could save thousands of dollars on prescriptions under the Build Back Better Act. Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year beginning in 2024. The redesign of Medicare Part D will also allow out-of-pocket spending to be smoothed over the course of the year, so patients are not forced to pay the entirety of their out-of-pocket cost all at one time. 

Making Insulin Accessible And Affordable. Insulin co-pays for all Americans with insurance will also be capped at $35 each month. 

Putting An End To Outrageous Price Increases. Build Back Better stops Big Pharma from raising price increases faster than the rate of inflation. For example, Humira, a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is one of the nation’s highest revenue generating drugs, raking in $21 billion in sales in 2019. AbbVie, Humira’s manufacturer, has hiked the price of Humira 27 times, including in January 2021 when it raised its cost by 7.4 percent. This cap would apply to all Americans, no matter whether you are insured or not, and no matter what kind of insurance you have, and is essential to stop arbitrary price increases on essential medications. Over the past 20 years, price increases for brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation.

Build Back Better Lowers Health Insurance Premiums

Nine Million Americans Will Save On Monthly Premiums. Nine million Americans will save an average of $600 annually on their premiums when they buy insurance on their own through the ACA Marketplaces. For a family of four making $80,000 a year, premiums will drop nearly $250 a month, or nearly $3,000 a year. 

Expanding Health Coverage For Millions Of Americans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that ACA enrollment would increase by 3.6 million people including 1.4 million who would otherwise be uninsured and 600,000 would have received unsubsidized coverage.

Reducing Income Coverage Disparities. Build Better Better ensures families above the 150 percent threshold pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income towards coverage. This will help middle-income families facing excessive premiums or living in high-premium areas. 

Expanding Coverage for Communities of Color. The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities estimates the increased savings continued under Build Back Better will cause a sharp decline in the uninsured rate across every racial group, with one in three uninsured Black adults gaining coverage. Prior to the American Rescue Plan, more than 11 million uninsured adults were eligible for premium tax credits, with people of color making up roughly half of the group.

Build Back Better Expands Medicaid

2.2 Million Americans Currently Denied Medicaid Will Gain Health Coverage. The Build Back Better Act will allow more than two million Americans currently trapped in the Medicaid coverage gap to access zero dollar premium health coverage. Of those currently in the coverage gap, 62 percent are in the labor force, 30 percent are parents with children at home, more than 25 percent are essential workers, and 15 percent of adults have a disability. 

Zero Dollar Premiums for Millions. In addition to covering the 2.2 million Americans in the Medicaid coverage gap, Build Back Better delivers zero dollar premium coverage to the 1.8 million uninsured individuals with incomes between $12,880 and $17,774 each year (100-138 percent of the federal poverty level). These plans 

Drastically Reducing Racial Health Disparities. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap is the single most important policy to expand coverage and reduce racial inequities in the American health care system. People of color are more likely to have a lower median income and live in a state without Medicaid expansion, compared with their white counterparts. In 2019, 60 percent of individuals in the coverage gap were people of color. 

Improving Coverage For Millions of Working Americans Whose Employer Coverage is Too Expensive Or Of Poor Quality. Millions of low-wage workers are offered employer health coverage that is cost prohibitive and not comprehensive. Over the past decade, premiums for low-wage workers have increased at nearly double the rate of wages. Build Back Better ensures that individuals who would be eligible if their state expanded Medicaid, can enroll in an ACA marketplace plan even if their employer offers coverage. This will allow low-wage workers to access comprehensive health coverage at little or no cost. 

Build Back Better Expands Medicare Benefits

Millions Will Gain Access To Hearing Care. Build Back Better would add hearing coverage to Medicare Part B starting in 2024. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that a Medicare hearing benefit could aid all 62 million Medicare beneficiaries, particularly the 36 million purchasing coverage on their own or simply going without. Hearing coverage under Build Back Better would include hearing rehabilitation and treatment services, as well as hearing aids. Build Back Better would also allow audiologists and hearing aid specialists to qualify for Medicare reimbursement.

Addressing High Out-Of-Pocket Costs. In 2018, Medicare beneficiaries paid an average out-of-pocket cost of more than $900 for hearing care. Only 30 percent of seniors over 70 who need hearing aids are able to use them, with Kaiser Family Foundation citing affordability as the likely culprit millions do not seek hearing care or hearing devices. Build Back Better expand Medicare to include hearing coverage by providing $35 billion in funding for hearing care.

Build Back Better Will Dramatically Improve Maternal & Infant Health 

Providing 12 Months Of Continuous Coverage To Postpartum Women. In 2018, 45 percent of births were paid for by Medicaid, with 50 percent or more births covered by the program in 22 states. Medicaid covers 65 percent of all births to Black mothers. With Black maternal mortality rates 3.2 times higher than for white women, Build Back Better recognizes the expansion of Medicaid coverage to post-partum individuals is a pressing racial justice issue by providing 12 months of continuous coverage to postpartum women. 

Millions Invested To Address Social Determinants Of Health. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act provisions included in the Build Back Better Act contain $175 million to address social determinants of maternal health at the local level. This would include once-in-a-generation investments in housing, nutrition, and environmental conditions with the explicit focus of improving maternal health.

Funding Health Equity Measures. The Build Back Better Act includes $295 million to bolster and diversify the perinatal health workforce, including funding for midwives and doulas whose involvement is essential to reducing maternal deaths. An additional $100 million has been included for maternal mental health equity and $50 million for maternal health research at Minority-Serving Institutions.

Directly Confronting Systemic Racism in Maternal Care. $50 million for training to address racism, discrimiation, and bias — originally part of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act — is included in the Build Back Better Act. This training for health care professionals is just one of the many necessary steps required to begin addressing racism in the American health care system and improve maternal health equity. 

How Build Back Better Ensures Continuous CHIP Coverage

Keeping Children on Medicaid For A Full Year Who Abruptly Lose Coverage. The Build Back Better Act would require states to provide 12-month continuous coverage for children on Medicaid and CHIP. As of January 2020, 31 states provided continuous coverage. States that don’t provide continuous coverage experience increased churn, or children who dis-enrolled and re-enrolled in coverage within the same year. Continuous coverage would help reduce racial disparities as nearly 14 percent of Hispanic, 12 percent of Black, and 13 percent of children in low or moderate income households faced uninsurance for all or part of the year.

Build Back Better Expands Home And Community-Based Services

Build Back Better Will Allow Millions of Americans To Grow Old At Home. Medicaid is currently the largest provider of home and community-based care, providing essential services to seniors and people with disabilities. Build Back Better will provide an additional $150 billion for home and community-based services, that would provide care to the 2.5 million Americans already participating in the program, and help alleviate the current waitlist of more than 800,000 individuals. Federally provided home and community-based services funds helped more than 100,000 individuals return to their homes and communities from nursing facilities between 2008 and 2019, highlighting the enormous need for Build Back Better to strengthen this essential program.

Nearly 820,000 People On HCBS Waiting Lists Gain Assistance. In 2018, Medicaid waivers provided care for 2.5 million HCBS enrollees. As the aging population continues to grow, over three-quarters of states have HCBS waiver waiting lists. Individuals spend an average of 39 months on waiting lists prior to eligibility screening. The Build Back Better Act will provide HCBS funding to help the nearly 820,000 Americans on waiting lists.

HCBS Expansion Strengthens Direct Care Workforce. The direct care workforce is disproportionately composed of black, female, and lower-wage workers. In 2018, 58 percent of direct care workers earned less than $30,000 a year. Additionally, nearly one-third of workers live in a low-income family that makes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. 82 percent of the direct care workforce are women and one in four workers are Black. The Build Back Better Act will combat the HCBS workforce shortage that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and historically low wages.

Families Will Save An Estimated $5,800 In Home Care Costs. Older Americans and people with disabilities are often forced to liquidate their assets to afford as little as two years of in-home care. The HCBS provisions included in the Build Back Better Act will save families paying out-of-pocket an estimated $5,800 a year for four hours of care per week.

 

FACT SHEET: How The Build Back Better Act Delivers Lower Prescription Drug Prices

Build Back Better is a historic plan that will bring down prescription drug prices so people can afford the medicines they need. The Build Back Better bill gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, ensures no senior pays more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, and protects every American from egregious price increases for the drugs they need to survive. 

For 20 years, big drug companies have been able to dictate the price that Americans pay for prescription drugs and Americans pay three times more than people in other countries. That status-quo means patients can’t afford what they need to stay healthy, but that status-quo ends with this plan. Reining in Big Pharma’s greed will reduce racial inequities in health care, improve the health and well-being of seniors and people with disabilities, strengthen families, and save lives. 

Here Are The Three Main Ways Build Back Better Will Drive Down Drug Prices For Patients: 

1) Giving Medicare The Power To Negotiate Lower Drug Prices. For nearly 20 years, Medicare has been banned from negotiating the price of prescription drugs, and Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Americans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries. Under Build Back Better, Medicare will be empowered to negotiate prices for select drugs purchased at the pharmacy counter and administered at a doctor’s office. Beginning in 2025, 10 drugs, in addition to insulin, will be negotiated with that number increasing to 20 drugs in 2028 and into the future. Drug companies who refuse to come to the negotiating table will be subject to an excise tax.

2) Capping Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Seniors. Seniors with serious conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis could save thousands of dollars on prescriptions under the Build Back Better Act. Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year. The redesign of Medicare Part D will also allow out-of-pocket spending to be smoothed over the course of the year, so patients are not forced to pay the entirety of their out-of-pocket cost at the beginning of the year. Insulin co-pays for all Americans with insurance will also be capped at $35 each month.

3) Putting An End To Runaway Price Increases. Build Back Better stops Big Pharma from raising price increases faster than the rate of inflation. For example, Humira, a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is one of the nation’s highest revenue generating drugs, raking in $21 billion in sales in 2019. AbbVie, Humira’s manufacturer, has hiked the price of Humira 27 times, including in January 2021 when it raised its cost by 7.4 percent. This cap would apply to all Americans, and is essential to stop arbitrary price increases on essential medications. Over the past 20 years, price increases for brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation.

IN THE NEWS: Democrats’ Historic Drug Pricing Deal Will Drive Down Costs for Patients Nationwide

Democrats to Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices in the Build Back Better Act

Democrats have reached a historic agreement to drive down prescription drug prices for the American people. For nearly 20 years, Medicare has been banned from negotiating the price of prescription drugs, and Big Pharma has been able to dictate prices while Americans pay three times more for their medications than people in other countries. The Build Back Better Act will finally give Medicare the power to negotiate, and it will cap seniors out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per month, limit diabetic Medicare patients’ insulin costs to $35 per month, and end excessive price gouging of medicines for all Americans. 

Thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Democrats in Congress, Americans will finally see real relief at the pharmacy counter, and millions of families will no longer have to struggle to afford the medications they need to survive. 

HEADLINES

Politico: ‘A Massive Step Forward’: Democrats Clinch Drug Pricing Deal. “Democrats on Tuesday announced an agreement on drug pricing reform, coming out in favor of allowing Medicare Part D to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for the first time since its creation, a move the drug industry has fought for nearly two decades.” [Politico, 11/2/21]

NPR: Democrats’ Deal On Prescription Drugs Would Lower Costs For Seniors. “The 2021 threshold is currently set at $6,500 for out-of-pocket drug costs, a number that activists in the health care space argue is too high and can still be detrimental to low- and middle-income Americans, for whom the program is designed. The White House in a Tuesday evening statement praised the compromise, calling the ban on direct negotiations between Medicare and drug makers an “unfair prohibition” that hurt American seniors.” [NPR, 11/2/21]

The New York Times: Democrats Add Drug Cost Curbs To Social Policy Plan, Pushing For Vote. “House Democrats reached a deal on Tuesday to add a measure to curb prescription drug costs to President Biden’s $1.85 trillion social safety net plan, agreeing to allow the government for the first time to negotiate prices for medications covered by Medicare as they pushed for a quick vote on the bill.” [The New York Times, 11/2/21]

The Washington Post: Democrats Announce Deal On Prescription Drug Pricing As Another Part Of Spending Plan Comes Into Focus. “Under the deal, the U.S. government would gain the ability to negotiate some drug prices on behalf of seniors who participate in Medicare. Such a power for the first time would give the benefit program leverage to drive down the price of medicine, allowing the federal government — along with millions of families — to save money.” [The Washington Post, 11/2/21]

Axios: Democrats’ Historic Compromise On Prescription Drug Prices. “The deal hits on Democrats’ three main pillars of drug price reform: It allows Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs, it puts a cap on how much drugmakers can hike prices in both Medicare and the commercial market, and it redesigns the Medicare Part D benefit in a way that significantly reduces seniors’ out-of-pocket costs.” [Axios, 11/3/21]

CNBC: Democrats Reach A Breakthrough Deal On Drug Prices, As Spending Bill Nears The Finish Line. “House and Senate Democrats reached a breakthrough agreement on lowering prescription drug prices Tuesday, putting an end to one of the party’s thorniest disputes in their $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill… The last-minute deal surprised Democrats outside of leadership, in part because Medicare negotiation powers were not part of a framework agreement that President Joe Biden had released last week…” [CNBC, 11/2/21]

Bloomberg: Democrats Reach Drug Pricing Deal Key To Vote On Biden Plan. “Schumer said the price of insulin will go from $600 per month to $35 under the deal, which also would put a $2,000 annual cap on Medicare drug costs. ‘By empowering Medicare to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part D, this deal will directly reduce out-of-pocket drug spending for millions of patients every time they visit the pharmacy or doctor,’ Schumer said.” [Bloomberg, 11/2/21]

The Washington Post: Democrats Are Delivering Action On Drug Prices To Voters. “The compromise reached yesterday allows Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs for the first time. The plan delivers a defeat to the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s a far cry from the sweeping reforms Democrats originally envisioned… Democrats pushing for a more far-reaching policy are coalescing around the message that something is better than nothing.” [The Washington Post, 11/3/21]

BREAKING: Democrats Reach Deal to Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Prescription Drug Prices in Build Back Better Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, Democrats in Congress reached a historic agreement to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans. This agreement gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, caps seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs, and stops excessive price increases for existing medications. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“President Biden and Democratic leaders fought tirelessly to include prescription drug reform in the Build Back Better Act, and now they have a plan to make it happen. For far too long, drug companies have dictated prices. Americans pay three times more than people in other countries, but that all stops with this plan.

“Now, Medicare will have the power to negotiate lower drug prices, no senior will pay more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, no diabetic Medicare patient will pay more than $35 per month for their insulin, and every American will be protected from egregious price increases for the drugs they need. Combined with the other health measures in the Build Back Better Act, Democrats will lower insurance premiums, expand coverage and lower the cost of drugs for millions. This is the most significant expansion of affordable health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. That’s a big deal.

“The only loser today is Big Pharma. Instead of wasting millions of dollars on failed lobbying efforts and scare tactics, drug companies can now put more money towards innovation and research. Reducing the cost of prescription drugs will save lives, and we have President Biden and Democrats to thank for bringing real relief to millions of people.” 

“We Cannot Turn Back Now:” Frontline Democrats Call for Passing Medicare Negotiation in Build Back Better Act

U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D-MN-02) and 14 swing-district Democratic members of the House released a letter calling for the final Build Back Better Act to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Members recognize that delivering lower drug prices means keeping their promises to voters.  

They wrote, “With the Build Back Better agenda, we have a perhaps once in a generation opportunity to change the status quo and make good on our promise that no one should have to choose between affording their prescription drugs or food or housing. The public is on our side. Big Pharma is not.” Click here to read the full letter. 

From Washington Post’s Health 202: “House Democrats from some of the most vulnerable seats are urging leadership to include drug pricing measures in the bill. ‘Soon, we must go back to our districts and explain what we’ve done in Washington to make our constituents’ lives better,’ the 15 frontline Democrats wrote in a letter Sunday. ‘We ran on upsetting the status quo and lowering out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and prescription drugs.’” [Washington Post, 11/1/21

From Politico Huddle: “Fifteen frontline Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Sunday night urging the inclusion of prescription drug pricing provisions in the final social spending package, reminding their leadership of the promises they made to voters. ’As majority-makers in competitive districts, we promised our constituents that we would come to Washington to fight on their behalf for lower drug prices. We cannot turn back now on our promise to the American people,’ the lawmakers wrote.” [Politico, 11/1/21]

“I Am Not Giving Up”: Senator Klobuchar and Patient Advocates Demand Medicare Negotiation Now

Watch the Event Here.

Washington, DC — Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined health care advocates and Protect Our Care for a virtual roundtable on lowering drug costs and keeping meaningful Medicare negotiation in the final Build Back Better Act. Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring relief to patients struggling to afford their medications. During today’s event, storytellers from across the country shared what’s at stake for them if lawmakers fail to act. 

The roundtable comes after Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act that fails to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices. While Big Pharma continues to lobby against action to lower drug prices for patients, Democratic leadership have pledged to include Medicare negotiation in the final bill. 

“We’re in this fight because too many Americans are struggling to access their medications,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “It is more expensive to get prescription drugs in our country than in other countries, even though it’s our taxpayers that have funded so much of the research in the past five years. That’s why I have been spearheading these efforts to let Medicare negotiate since I’ve been in the Senate. It’s common sense policy.”

“The fight is not over to stand up to Big Pharma and put patients over profits,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “It is unconscionable that millions of families are forced to choose between the medications they need to survive and paying for other necessities like food or rent. We must meet this moment and deliver on the needs of families nationwide by giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices.” 

“Legislation like Medicare negotiation is going to save lives,” said Mindy Salango, Type 1 Diabetic and patient storyteller from West Virginia. “That is what is at stake not only in West Virginia, but across the country. We need our leaders to step up and speak for us and help us because that’s what we voted for. That’s what we put them in office for. And this bill is completely across party lines. Diabetes didn’t ask me if I was a liberal or conservative when it decided to enter my life. People want it, we need it.”

“I suffer from systemic lupus. In order to keep it under control, you need medications. There was one medication that was $3,000 a month, I cannot afford it. And when you’re on a fixed income, it blows your budget,” said Beatriz Morrison, a patient storyteller from Arizona. “There’s a lot of people out there in my neighborhood, in our country, that have to forego medications — it just isn’t right. I have a senator that doesn’t want to help us. [Senator Sinema] said she was going to help us, and she doesn’t seem to want to. A lot of people are out there dying.”

“I’ve been a nurse for 37 years, 12 of those years I’ve worked with the high-risk epilepsy population, who often need three to four medications to remain with controlled seizures. I had the heartwrenching experience of losing a patient who was 26 years old. Like many patients, Jay was unable to afford medication to treat his seizures, and it left him with nowhere to turn.” said Rachelle Compton, a nurse from California. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me that this is allowed in America. People’s lives are actually lost due to the pharmaceutical situation that we have here. It’s maddening and it’s really sad.” 

“I’m a community pharmacist in Teaneck, New Jersey, and every single day in my practice, customers come to me complaining about the cost of prescription drug prices,” said Michael Fedida, community pharmacist and pharmacy owner of J&J Pharmacy in New Jersey. “The 1500 lobbyists that are in Washington seem to have much more power than the entire Senate and Congress. It’s just so frustrating that it’s become a game of just money. People don’t seem to care about people’s lives and the quality of life that people are entitled to in this country.” 

“Pre-COVID, I didn’t have to think about my medical bills. I didn’t have to think about how I was going to pay for prescriptions. Through COVID, we ended up closing most of our businesses. I suffer from multiple autoimmune disorders and have several other illnesses, and now I have to think about ‘Oh, am I going to be able to pay for this $2,000 medication this week? Am I going to be able to pay for this $300 item,’” said Himali Patel, small business owner and patient storyteller from Georgia. “It’s up to the powers that be to go ahead and fight for our people to do better and do right by us.”

Senator Klobuchar to Head Roundtable With Storytellers and Advocates on Importance of Medicare Negotiation and Lowering Drug Costs

Washington, DC — On Saturday, October 30 at 12:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM CT Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will join health care advocates and Protect Our Care in a roundtable on the importance of lowering drug costs and immediately passing meaningful Medicare negotiation.

Virtual Roundtable:

WHO:
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 

Leslie Dach, Chair, Protect Our Care

Mindy Salango, Type 1 diabetic and patient storyteller (West Virginia)

Beatriz Morrison, a patient storyteller who struggles to afford her medication (Arizona)

Rachelle Compton, nurse whose patient died after not being able to afford his medications (California)

Michael Fedida, community pharmacist and pharmacy owner of J&J Pharmacy (New Jersey)

Himali Patel, small business owner and patient storyteller from (Georgia)

Jennifer Dotson, patient storyteller who also falls in the Medicaid coverage gap (Florida)

WHAT: Roundtable With Storytellers and Advocates on Medicare Negotiation and Lowering Drug Costs in the Build Back Better Act

WHERE: Watch the Event Here

WHEN: Saturday, October 30 at 12:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM CT

Rep. Peter Welch Says The Fight for Medicare Negotiations Continues 

Rep. Welch and Democratic Leaders Are Working Tirelessly to Ensure Meaningful Medicare Negotiation Remains in the Build Back Better Act

Listen to the Call Here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) joined Protect Our Care for a press call to discuss ongoing efforts to include strong provisions on Medicare negotiation in the final Build Back Better package. Medicare negotiation enjoys nearly universal support among voters and would dramatically bring down health care costs for the American people. 

The call comes after lawmakers announced a framework yesterday for the Build Back Better Act that fails to include any measures to lower prescription drug prices. However, Democratic leadership has pledged to include Medicare negotiation in the final bill. Today’s call made clear that lawmakers must stand up to Big Pharma and lower prescription drug prices once and for all. 

“Reports of drug price negotiation’s exclusion from Build Back Better are premature. My colleagues and I continue to fight because we know that failing to include these provisions would be political malpractice,” said U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL). “We know that our constituents are struggling to access the life-saving and life-extending drugs that they need because of pharma’s unchecked price gouging, and we know that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect them. Negotiations are ongoing and we’ll continue to work to get this done.”

“Now is not the time to back down from lowering drug prices. Failure to include negotiation in Build Back Better means maintaining the broken system that lets drug companies dictate outrageous prices while millions of Americans struggle to afford their medications,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Medicare negotiation is a win-win–it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do because it enjoys nearly universal support from voters. Democrats ran and won on health care in 2020, and now they must deliver on their promises and lower drug prices now.” 

ROUNDUP: Members of Congress Pledge to Include Medicare Negotiation in Final BBB Package

Yesterday, Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act. While the agreement includes historic measures to dramatically lower health costs and expand care, it is missing a critical provision: giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for all Americans. Medicare negotiation is the most popular and transformative health care measure in the entire bill. As Big Pharma and their allies in Congress continue to fight against reform, Democrats from across the political spectrum agree that Medicare negotiation must remain in the final package. 

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “[Pallone] does not think the Build Back Better Act can pass the House without meaningful reforms to lower the cost of prescription drugs.” [@rachel_roubein, 10/28/21]

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “I remain committed to finalizing an agreement that includes price negotiation, a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket drug spending, and a penalty for Big Pharma companies that unfairly raise prices.” [Time, 10/28/21]

House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ): “I still feel confident that we’re going to get a drug pricing initiative, but I just want you all to know that pharma is doing whatever they can to try to prevent any drug pricing provision being in this bill. And if it doesn’t get in the bill, it’s totally because of them and their lackeys here in the House and the Senate.” [Roll Call, 10/28/21]

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “We’re staying at it. This is too important.” [Time, 10/28/21]


Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “The deal isn’t done until the Senate acts.” [The Washington Post, 10/28/21]


Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR): “The way I would put it — if you want you know, my bottom line — it is non-negotiable that negotiation become a part of Medicare now.” [Roll Call, 10/28/21]

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “I have some serious concerns about what is not in the bill. For years, we have been talking about lowering the cost of prescription drugs and that is not in the bill. At all.” [The Wall Street Journal, 10/29/21]

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “Bottom line is that any reconciliation bill must include serious negotiations on the part of Medicare with the pharmaceutical industry, lower the cost of prescription drugs.” [@MedicareWorld, 10/26/21]

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA): “It’s not dead. I think that’s a fair statement.” [The Washington Post, 10/29/21]

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “It is time for Americans to get a better deal and I won’t stop fighting for it.” [@amyklobuchar, 10/28/21]


Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT): “We should keep fighting to get the best deal in the package and push for it to include negotiation of drug prices.” [@ChrisMurphyCT, 10/28/21]

Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07): “I’m not backing down.” [@RepSusanWild, 10/27/21]

Memo to Congress From the America People: Give Medicare the Power to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices Now

Recent Polling Confirms Drug Pricing Remains Voters’ Top Concern As Congress Finalizes the Build Back Better Act

Yesterday, Democrats announced a framework for the Build Back Better Act. While the historic agreement will dramatically lower health costs and expand care, it is missing a key plan: giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. As Big Pharma and their allies in Congress continue to fight against reform, Democratic leaders are working to ensure meaningful Medicare negotiation is included in the Build Back Better Act. Poll after poll shows that the #1 element of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is Medicare negotiation. Failure to include negotiation in Build Back Better means maintaining the broken system that lets drug companies dictate outrageous prices while millions of Americans struggle to afford their medications. 

Giving Medicare the full power to negotiate for lower prices is not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do. Democrats ran and won on health care in 2018 and 2020. It’s plain and simple: This is not the time to cower to Big Pharma’s demands — Medicare negotiation must remain in the final Build Back Better Act to lower drug prices for all Americans.

RECENT POLLING

Navigator Poll Finds Medicare Price Negotiation As The Best Reason Among Voters To Support Build Back Better. “Independents and economically persuadable Americans say giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices [is] the best reason to pass the plan.” [Navigator, 10/15/21]

Kaiser Family Foundation Poll Finds Strong Support For Negotiation Across Political Spectrum. “Of those in support: “83% total, 95% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 71% of Republicans.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/12/21]

  • Americans Favor Arguments For Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Than Those Made Against It. “One-third of the public say the argument from those opposed to drug price negotiations is convincing compared to a large majority (84%) who say they found the argument from those in favor convincing.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/12/21]

CBS Poll Finds Overwhelming Support For Build Back Better Health Provisions, With Drug Price Negotiations At The Top. “88 percent of respondents support federal drug price negotiations, with 84 percent in support of expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage.” [CBS, 10/10/21]

Build Back Together Survey Across 48 Battleground Congressional Districts Finds Allowing Medicare To Negotiate Drug Prices Is The Most Popular Component Of The Build Back Better Plan. “Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices was the most popular of the 16 components of the Build Back Better plan tested. Over two-thirds of battleground district voters (71%) say this component makes them more likely to support the reconciliation plan. It is especially popular with seniors, but also the most popular component among both independents and those voters who are persuadable on the reconciliation plan.” [ALG Research, 9/29/21]

Hart Research Poll Finds Hart Medicare Negotiation Was The Most Important Element In Driving Support For The Build Back Better Package. “When making the case for the Build Back Better Act, it’s significantly strengthened by including health care. Support for the investments in critical priorities in the act is strong (74-26%) but is significantly stronger (80-20%) when the description includes that the plan reduces health care costs and the price of prescription drugs.” [Hart Research, 9/13/21

NAVIGATOR Polls Finds Economically Persuadable Americans Want Prescription Drug Negotiation. “86 percent of respondents support reducing the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, with 69 percent of Democrats, 49 of independents, 50 percent of Republicans, and 63 percent of economically persuadable Americans strongly supporting the measure.” [NAVIGATOR, 9/8/21]