Local Advocates Call on Congress to Pass Build Back Better Act with Medicare Negotiations to Lower Drug Costs and other Health Care Provisions
Concord, NH (Nov. 17, 2021) —NH health advocates, medical leaders and residents today joined Protect Our Care NH to call on Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act legislation immediately.
Forum participants shared perspectives on the major health care provisions in the Build Back Better Act, which may be debated in Congress this week. Those provisions include giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage for four million Americans in the Medicaid coverage gap, and much more — to lower costs and improve access to health care.
As participant Sandra Pratt of Gateway Community Services noted during the live forum, Build Back Better will benefit everyone in New Hampshire, and support for it must also come from across the board. “We need to work together,” said Pratt. “Together we’re strong, together we can go further.”
Carrie Duran, single parent to three children, focused on the importance of the Child Tax Credit during the pandemic. The tax credit has been “a wonderful lifeline for my family to cover unexpected expenses -- car repairs, back-to-school costs.” Duran added that just in the past 24 hours the value of the tax credit loomed large for her household. A COVID cluster in her young daughter’s classroom meant that Duran needed to stay home from her part-time job to be with her child who is vulnerable to the virus. “Without the tax credit, this would be a very stressful decision – a day off from work could have meant no food on the table.”
President Biden and patient advocates have been working to pass historic health care investments as part of the Build Back Better Act, including giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. The prescription drug provisions give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, ensure seniors will pay no more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions, diabetics will pay no more than $35 for insulin, and mandates that Americans be protected from the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs.
Home health care costs are a challenge for many New Hampshire households, like that of participant Laura Lynch, her husband, and her mother. All three rely on Social Security benefits, and their regular uncovered costs for co-pays, prescriptions and other health care already totaled more than $1,000 each month,” said Lynch. Earlier this year home health care became essential -- when Lynch’s husband suffered a broken leg, then a heart attack, and her mother’s care needs increased due to Alzheimer’s disease. The Build Back Better Act’s move to expanding home health care training and availability would support jobs and keep people healthier and safe, said Lynch.
The advocates noted that the transformative act will reduce racial disparities in health care, create healthier communities, strengthen the economy, and support the health care system in ways small and large. Such systemic changes are vital now, says participant Walter King, retired PhD and engineer. “We need to build a more robust healthcare system.” King emphasized the need to learn from the challenges of the past two years. “The pandemic has exposed all the cracks in our healthcare system,” he said. “We have to build capacity, make sure front-line workers are safe and paid for what they do...no state can handle these things alone.”
Participant Heather Stockwell of Rights & Democracy NH emphasized the need for New Hampshire residents to reach out their elected representatives and urge them to promote passage and signing of the Build Back Better Act, which will be the most significant expansion of affordable health care since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Start a relationship with those folks, it is really important that they hear from us,” Stockwell said. Those with insurance, those without coverage, families, seniors, working people and unemployed all need the benefits the Build Back Better Act will bring to healthcare, said Stockwell. “So encourage our delegation to do the right thing and keep at it.”