November 22, 2021
House Passes Historic Build Back Act that Lowers Drug Prices, Funds Home Care and Hearing Aids
The House voted 220-213 to pass the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, Friday morning, sending President Biden’s sweeping plan to invest in middle class families and expand long-awaited social programs to the U.S. Senate. The bill 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;
- a $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year;
- $150 billion to expand home health care 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 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.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, drug negotiations will save Medicare $262 billion. The bill must now go to the Senate, where it will likely be amended, then sent back to the House, before it can become law.
“The Alliance applauds the House passage of the historic Build Back Better bill that will significantly improve the lives of older Americans,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Seniors appreciate that the bill takes steps to lower prescription drug prices for retirees and all Americans. Now that the House has voted, it’s time for the Senate to deliver for the American people without delay.”