Right now, the U.S. Congress has a once-in-a-decade chance to take huge strides toward making our health care system more equitable, accessible, and affordable. The health care policies proposed in the Build Back Better budget plan will make key investments and critical reforms that the large majority of American voters support. We just need to get them past the finish line!
What’s happening? The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities and shortcomings of our nation’s health care system, with communities of color, people with disabilities, people who are older, and people who are low income being hit disproportionately hard. In addition, the cost of health care continues to rise faster than wages and inflation, putting quality, affordable coverage out of reach for millions of families.
The health care provisions in the Build Back Better package that is making its way through Congress will go a long way toward lowering the cost of health care for working families and seniors. Time is short and while lawmakers are weighing many important issues, it’s critical for us to make our voices heard to tell Congress to make bold and robust investments in the health of our communities and our country.
In order to make health care more equitable, accessible, and affordable, we need to make our voices loud and clear that we want Congress to:
- Provide a permanent and comprehensive federal solution to close the Medicaid “coverage gap” for people in states that refuse to expand Medicaid for low-income uninsured adults, 60% of whom are people of color and have no other pathway to coverage.
- Permanently extend the increase in premium tax credits enacted under the American Rescue Plan for people buying coverage through the health insurance Marketplace. This increase contributed to more than 2.8 million people gaining health coverage between February and August.
- Lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices which nearly 90% of Americans support.
- Improve the quality of and access to Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) which helps people with disabilities and seniors live safely in their homes and communities rather than in nursing homes or congregate settings.
- Make the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) permanent that nearly ten million children rely on and has reduced the uninsured rate for children by nearly 70%.
- Invest in reducing maternal mortality by requiring Medicaid and CHIP to cover full benefits for one year for pregnant and postpartum women. This, along with other key provisions of the Momnibus legislation, would make over $1 billion in historic investments in the health and care of moms.
- Expand Medicare to include much needed hearing, vision, and dental services for seniors.
How do we pay for this? It’s simple—make corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes and rein in price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations. By closing the loopholes that allow profitable multinational corporations to dodge tens of billions of dollars a year in U.S. taxes by shifting profits to offshore tax havens and billionaires to evade paying taxes, we can ensure everyone has access to high quality and affordable health care. Furthermore, we can rein in drug corporations that this year alone have hiked up the prices of 1,100 prescription drugs, more than 90% of which were above the inflation rate.