November 15, 2021
Build Back Better Act Clears Procedural Vote in House, Awaits Next Steps
Following the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday, November 5, Democrats in Congress passed a key procedural vote to set up eventual passage of the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, as they worked toward securing commitments from a group of holdout members.
The group of six House members committed to voting for the transformative legislation once the Congressional Budget Office confirms that the bill is fully paid for, most likely before Thanksgiving. If passed by the House, the bill must then go to the Senate, where it will likely be amended, then sent back to the House.
The bill represents President Biden’s plan to strengthen and invest in middle class families and contains numerous benefits for older Americans, including:
- Lower prescription drug prices for all Americans by allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for some medicines and through several other mechanisms;
- $150 billion to expand home health care and services for seniors and people with disabilities, along with increased wages and benefits for caregiving workers. Hundreds of thousands more Americans would be able to receive the long-term care and services they need at home, rather than in an institution;
- Guaranteed hearing benefits for all Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for new hearing aids every five years;
- Medicare coverage of all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — such as shingles, which would be covered at no cost;
- Extended Affordable Care Act subsidies, which would be especially helpful to older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the House 228-206 on November 5, will be signed by President Biden at a White House event on Monday. It includes $39 billion in public transit — key for older Americans who travel by bus and train — and $65 billion to bring broadband to every American, including 22 million seniors who lack internet access at home.
“These bills are historic and will help older Americans,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “To address prescription drug prices, home care, hearing and more all at once will truly make a major difference in seniors’ lives.”