Washington, DC — Today, President Biden proposed a budget that will protect and strengthen Medicare, cut drug prices, and crack down on wasteful spending by Big Pharma. The proposal caps insulin at $35 for those on private insurance, provides affordable coverage in states that have failed to expand Medicaid, broadens Medicare’s power to negotiate lower drug prices, extends coverage to women for a full year after they’ve had a baby, extends Medicare solvency, and makes enhanced ACA subsidies permanent. The policies outlined are in direct opposition to the Republican threats to defund Medicare and Medicaid and to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden’s budget is estimated to save billions in the long run and expand lower costs for millions of Americans.
In response, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:
“This budget is a reminder that President Biden is laser-focused on delivering lower cost, better health care to hard-working Americans. By building on the success of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden is making sure working people and seniors will have lower costs for coverage and prescription drugs, so families have a little breathing room.
“On the other hand, Republicans refuse to give up on their radical effort to raise costs and rip away health care from millions of Americans. Their proposal of massive cuts to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Medicare would be disastrous for the American people, disproportionately impacting children, rural Americans, people with disabilities, and people of color. President Biden made it clear in his proposed budget that he will not let Republicans hold our economy and the American people hostage.”
STAT: Biden Makes Drug Pricing A Central Part Of His Deficit Reduction Plans. “Another Medicare pilot program to make an appearance in the president’s budget, though not by name, is a plan to limit Medicare Part D cost-sharing to $2 on generic drugs for chronic conditions, such as hypertension and high cholesterol. It’s not clear whether the policy is a copy of the pilot program or a way of skipping that experiment and moving straight to a national policy. A separate budget policy proposes to extend Medicaid drug rebates to states’ Children’s Health Insurance Programs, for an estimated savings of $2.3 billion over 10 years. The budget also calls for extending Medicare’s $35 monthly cap on insulin out-of-pocket costs to people with private insurance. The measure is popular with voters in both parties, but Republicans blocked legislation from Democrats last year that would have made that cap law. More than 1 in 5 insulin users with private insurance pay more than $35 a month for the medicine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.” [STAT News, 3/9/23]
Wall Street Journal: Biden Budget to Propose Saving Hundreds of Billions by Cutting Drug Prices, Fraud. “The White House said the budget will outline a plan requiring that insurance companies that run Medicaid Managed Care programs pay back Medicaid if companies charge more than the cost of patient care. In managed care, the state contracts with private insurance companies to provide the benefits on behalf of the state. States pay the managed-care company generally a set amount each month. The proposal would save $20 billion over 10 years, the White House said, and is similar to what is already required of Medicare Managed Care plans. More than 70% of Medicaid enrollees are in managed-care plans, and the numbers are expected to increase. A series of new prescription drug-related proposals would save more than $200 billion over a decade by imposing new rules on the pharmaceutical industry, according to the White House. The budget plan would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for more drugs and bring them into negotiation sooner after they launch. This proposal has been criticized by PhRMA, the trade group for the pharmaceutical industry, which says it will mean less revenue for research and development of new drugs.” [Wall Street Journal, 3/9/23]
Axios: Biden’s “Finish The Job” Budget: $35 Insulin Cap At Center Of Plan. “President Biden will use the release of his FY2024 budget Thursday to pressure Republicans to cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for all Americans, according to administration officials. Why it matters: By putting Biden’s insulin cap at the center of his budget rollout, the White House is previewing the populist tone that will course throughout his expected re-election campaign. White House budgets are always political documents, but Biden is leaning into making this year’s proposal a virtual campaign manifesto. He also wants to lay potential traps for the new — and thin — GOP House majority as both sides position themselves for a big summer showdown on how to raise the debt ceiling and whether to cut any spending. […] What they’re saying: ‘The President, like 7 in 10 Americans, thinks it is unacceptable that Congressional Republicans continue to block common-sense legislation to cap the cost for all Americans in need of insulin,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Axios. ‘If the MAGA Republicans get their way, seniors will pay higher out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs and insulin, the deficit will be bigger, and Medicare will be weaker,’ Biden wrote in the New York Times op-ed on Tuesday.” [Axios, 3/9/23]
The Epoch Times: Republicans Denounce Biden’s Budget, but Haven’t Provided an Alternative of Their Own. “While Republicans are united in their opposition to the Biden budget, they remain a house divided in drafting a plan of their own. Republicans are reportedly preparing three budget proposals, one each from the House Budget Committee, the Republican Study Committee, and the Freedom Caucus. Emmer alluded to the division in the Republicans’ press conference on Mar. 8, which was intended as a call for bipartisanship in the wake of a joint briefing with House Democrats by the Congressional Budget Office. ‘You can’t make a difference on your own. You got to do it with other people, and Kevin McCarthy has literally started to bring both sides of this—all side—because it’s not that easy anymore. It’s not just both sides,’ Emer said in an apparent reference to factions within the Republican caucus. Biden said he believes the Republican objective to reduct [sic] the deficit without increasing taxes or cutting Social Security, Medicare, or defense spending is unachievable. ‘How are they going to make the math work?’ Biden asked. ‘What are they going to cut?’ He suggest [sic] that Republicans cannot make their vision work without cutting social programs that many Americans depend on. The president acknowledged that he and the Republicans have a different vision for the economy, but said he is willing to work together to reconcile their proposals. ‘I’m ready to meet with the speaker anytime, tomorrow if he has a budget,’ the president said. He proposed to compare their positions line-by-line and come to an agreement.” [The Epoch Times, 3/9/23]
Bloomberg Law: Biden Puts Drug Pricing at Front of Medicare Spending Debate. “President Joe Biden is doubling down on efforts to curb what Medicare and Medicaid pay for medicines, a proposal that would allow reductions in Medicare spending without changing benefits or physician pay. Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget request, released Thursday, called for extending the Inflation Reduction Act (Public Law 117-169) inflation rebates to the commercial market and expanding the number and scope of drugs that will soon face government negotiations. Currently, the law allows only Medicare to collect rebates from drug manufacturers that raise prices on products faster than the rate of inflation, and focuses negotiation only on older medicines. The budget also requests higher spending for the Department of Health and Human Services to extend certain health programs. Presidential budgets are largely symbolic documents, pointing to policies that administrations want to focus on. The administration’s proposal for health programs has a major focus on curbing drug spending.” [Bloomberg Law, 3/9/23]
Modern Healthcare: Biden Budget Plan Outlines Health Priorities. “The federal government would save $20 billion over 10 years by constraining payments to Medicaid insurers, according to the White House. The budget proposal also expands on Biden’s previously announced behavioral health agenda by calling for reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare enrollees, mental health workforce development and parity for mental health coverage under private health insurance. Other highlights from Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget plan include: Health insurance exchanges: The White House would permanently extend enhanced subsidies for health insurance exchange users. Medicaid: Biden’s budget calls for the creation of a federally funded ‘Medicaid-like’ coverage plan to provide benefits to low-income adults in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The plan also would expand home- and community-based services for Medicaid beneficiaries. […] Prescription drug prices: Biden proposes expanding on the Inflation Reduction Act by allowing the federal government to set prices on a broader array of medicines, cap cost-sharing for some generic pharmaceuticals under Medicare Part D at $2, beef up Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program drug rebates, and require drugmakers to refund private customers when they increase prices at a rate that exceeds inflation.” [Modern Health, 3/9/23]
Endpoints News: Biden Budget Wants To More Than Double Number Of Negotiated Drugs Under Medicare, And Eliminate Hepatitis C. “President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his 2024 budget, which is packed with lofty goals that may never see the light of day because Congress controls the federal purse strings and Republicans control the House. Even still, the wide-ranging budget looks to immediately build off the Inflation Reduction Act by rapidly expanding the number of drugs that will be negotiated and decreasing the amount of time that small and large molecule drugs will go without negotiations, from 10 years for small molecules and 13 years for biologics to just five years for both small and large molecule drugs. The shift would have a much more significant impact on biopharma R&D than the original IRA, which the Congressional Budget Office projected would cut only about 10 drugs over 30 years.” [Endpoints News, 3/9/23]
Healthcare Dive: Biden’s Proposed HHS Budget Aims To Make Pandemic-Era Subsidies Permanent. “President Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget for the HHS targets healthcare access for underserved populations and aims to make premium Affordable Care Act subsidies permanent. Released Thursday, the budget also proposes to extend Medicare solvency and give the federal government more power to negotiate prescription drug prices. It allocates $144.3 billion in discretionary funding to the agency, up from $127.3 billion in 2023, and aims to reduce the federal deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade. The HHS proposes to allocate $183 billion over the next 10 years to make enhanced tax credits, enacted originally under the American Rescue Plan and extended into 2025 by the Inflation Reduction Act, permanent. With the subsidies, enrollment in Marketplace plans soared during the coronavirus pandemic, contributing to a record-low rate of uninsured Americans and a record-high number of ACA plan enrollees. Last month, the CMS announced a record 16.3 million people had signed up during the 2023 open enrollment session.” [Healthcare Dive, 3/9/23]