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President Biden is Driving Down Costs, Expanding Coverage, and Improving Care For Black Americans

By February 1, 2024No Comments

In celebration of Black History Month, Protect Our Care is highlighting important steps taken under the Biden-Harris administration to reduce disparities in access to quality, comprehensive health care by expanding coverage, reducing costs, and improving care in the communities where it is most needed. President Biden and Vice President Harris are doing everything in their power to drive down health care costs and improve access to quality health care for Black Americans – from the cradle through retirement. Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act have made health insurance and prescription drugs more affordable ensuring a greater number of Black families have access to quality health care across the nation. Additionally, they extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers to one year postpartum, securing lifesaving care for families. 

President Biden Is Expanding Coverage By Making It More Affordable Than Ever

Expanded Premium Tax Credits to Ensure 75 Percent Of Black Adults Get Health Coverage For Less Than $50 Per Month. The premium savings extended through the Inflation Reduction Act have made more than 65 percent of uninsured Black adults eligible for zero-dollar premium plans. Nearly 75 percent of uninsured Black adults can now also access plans for less than $50 a month. The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities estimates the continuation of these increased savings would cause a sharp decline in the uninsured rate across every racial group, with a projected one in three uninsured Black adults gaining coverage.

President Biden Is Addressing the Maternal Mortality Crisis By Giving New Moms Health Care One Year Postpartum

Medicaid Expansion One Year Postpartum Saves The Lives Of Black Mothers. Medicaid is vital for ensuring access to quality, affordable care, especially for women of color who experience higher rates of preventable maternal mortality and morbidity than white women. While the passage of the Affordable Care Act brought uninsurance among mothers down by more than 42 percent, the maternal mortality rate in America has doubled over the last three decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic significantly worsened the crisis. Over 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, and over half occur between 7 days and 12 months after pregnancy. Recognizing the urgency of the maternal health crisis, the Biden-Harris Administration, with Democrats in Congress, offered states incentives to expand Medicaid coverage for a full year postpartum – first, on a temporary basis through the American Rescue Plan and then permanently in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. Moreover, President Biden has proposed in his 2023 budget to make 12 months of postpartum coverage mandatory for all Medicaid programs. 

HHS Awarded More Than $103 Million For A New Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force And A National Public Education Campaign On Postpartum Depression. This past fall, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions and funding to fight the maternal health crisis. More than $103 million has been awarded to create a maternal mental health and coexisting substance use disorder task force to improve federal data collection and health equity, and implement best practices for prevention, screening, diagnosis, intervention, treatment, community practices, communication, and community engagement. The focus of the task force will be to ensure mental health equity and promote trauma-informed practices. The funding is also going towards a national public education campaign, called Talking Postpartum Depression, which will increase awareness of postpartum depression symptoms, share reliable resources, and demonstrate the many ways to access care. 

  • HHS Awarded Nearly $90 Million To Expand Maternal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Programs. The HRSA programs that have been awarded additional funding from HHS focus on expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce, increasing access to maternal health services in underserved and rural communities, investing in maternal mental health research, and supporting patients and families postpartum by training additional OB/GYNs, midwives, and maternal health care providers.

CMS Launched ‘Birthing Friendly’ Designation On Comparing Care Tool.  The Biden-Harris administration and CMS launched the ‘birthing friendly’ designation on CMS’s online Care Compare tool. This designation allows patients to search for a hospital that participates in a perinatal quality improvement collaborative program and that implements evidence-based care to improve maternal health. More than 24 health plans agreed to use this designation on their consumer-facing websites, reaching more than 150 million people.

President Biden Is Lowering Drug Prices For Seniors On Medicare

The $35 Insulin Cap Will Save Black Individuals Who Need Insulin $1,500 Per Year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes is the most common chronic illness in the United States, with Black adults being almost 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. With insulin manufacturers raising retail prices by over 600 percent in the last 20 years, the ability to simply afford the required medication needed to survive has become a major barrier to health equity and financial security. Under the Inflation Reduction Act though, insulin prices have now been capped at $35 a month. This will save each Black senior who uses Medicare up to $1,500 annually.

Medicare Part D And Medicaid Recipients Can Receive Vaccinations For Free. Medicare is better than ever and seniors can get their shingles shots and all other vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, such as COVID-19, RSV, and the flu, for free. White Americans are nearly twice as likely to have received the shingles vaccine than Black Americans and this is not the only area where vaccination programs highlight a consistent racial disparity. Much of these inequities can be traced back to cost and lack of access to this vital form of preventive health care. The Inflation Reduction Act aims to begin tackling this vast issue by making more vaccines available to Medicare Part D recipients with no cost-sharing. Free vaccines for more Black seniors means reducing hospitalizations, fewer complications in other health problems, and a more sustainable and equitable health system. The Inflation Reduction Act also required state Medicaid and CHIP programs to cover vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for no out-of-pocket costs. This allowed an estimated 4 million adults to gain access to shingles vaccines that didn’t previously have access before. Accessible vaccinations will particularly help low-income families on Medicaid, many of whom are people of color and people with disabilities, to help prevent illness and related work absences. 

Extra Help Program Expanded To Help 3 Million Afford Health Care. The Biden administration announced investments in helping up to 3 million eligible seniors and people with disabilities enroll in the Extra Help program in 2023 to benefit from the program’s lower cost premiums, deductibles, and copayments. The Inflation Reduction Act expanded the program, starting in January 2024. 

$2,000 Annual Cap For Out-Of-Pocket Spending On Prescription Drugs, Will Save Black Families Over $1,200 Per Year. Black Medicare beneficiaries are nearly twice as likely than white Medicare beneficiaries to stop taking a prescription due to cost. From 2016 to 2021 alone, costs for specialty prescription drugs increased by 43 percent while other drug prices increased by rates of over 500 percent. The Inflation Reduction Act addresses these outrageous skyrocketing prices by requiring that manufacturers whose drug prices increase faster than that of inflation will have to pay Medicare a rebate. This will not only save the government billions of dollars, but it will drastically reduce out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. The Inflation Reduction Act will also implement by 2025 a $2,000 annual cap for out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, saving Black families on average $1,216 every year.

Negotiating Lower Drug Prices Will Make Drugs That Are Disproportionately Needed By Historically Marginalized Communities More Affordable And Accessible. The ten drugs selected by Medicare for lower negotiated prices treat several conditions that disproportionately impact people of color. Five of the ten drugs are taken by a disproportionate number of Black, Latino, Asian, and/or American Indian/Alaska Native Medicare enrollees relative to the Medicare population as a whole, including:

  • Entresto is taken by a higher percentage of Black enrollees than their proportion of the Medicare population. 
  • Farxiga is taken by a higher percentage of Black enrollees, Latino enrollees, and Asian American enrollees than their proportion of the Medicare population.
  • Fiasp/NovoLog is taken by a higher percentage of Black enrollees, Latino enrollees, and American Indian/Alaskan Native enrollees than their proportion of the Medicare population.
  • Januvia is taken by a higher percentage of Black enrollees, Latino enrollees, and Asian American enrollees than their proportion of the Medicare population. 
  • Jardiance is taken by a higher percentage of Black enrollees, Latino enrollees, Asian American enrollees, and American Indian/Alaskan Native enrollees than their proportion of the Medicare population.