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Health Advocates Work to Push Build Back Better Act Over Finish Line

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Build Back Better Act, now headed to the U.S. Senate, would be a huge win for consumers, according to groups fighting for better health care.

Forty-two members of California's congressional delegation voted in support of the measure, which aims to keep premiums affordable for Covered California enrollees, lower the price of prescription drugs, and cap prices on diabetes medication, and cap out-of-pocket expenses for older Americans on Medicare Part D.

Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications for the group Health Access California, said it was a heavy lift and a big victory just to pass it out of the House.

"There's still time to speak up in both thanking your congressional members," Gish noted. "But also reaching out to your senators to make sure the bill gets out of the Senate as strong as possible."

The Build Back Better Act would also add a hearing benefit to Medicare, prevent huge spikes in the cost of prescription drugs, and extend through 2024 subsidies helping millions of families get insured through Covered California. Opponents say the price tag is too high.

Gish contended Build Back Better is the most significant change in health policy since the Affordable Care Act. She noted one of the bill's biggest impacts healthwise is a provision allowing Medicare to start negotiating down the price of prescription drugs, something currently forbidden.

"Right now, prescription drugmakers can charge whatever they want, whatever the market will bear," Gish asserted. "Giving Medicare the ability to actually go back and forth with drugmakers to lower those costs for their consumers is a huge step in the right direction."

If the Senate makes any changes to the bill, it would still have to go back to the House for a concurrence vote before it lands on President Joe Biden's desk.

Disclosure: Health Access and Hunger Action Los Angeles contribute to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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