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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Nov. 19 to approve landmark legislation that could boost the quality of life for millions of older Americans and their families, ranging from significant improvements to Medicare to expanded home- and community-care services to more affordable housing options.
The House voted 220-213 to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) bill. AARP fought hard to make sure the legislation included key reforms to make Medicare more affordable and effective for older Americans as well as include financial support for America's 48 million family caregivers.
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“Today’s vote is a critical step to help seniors afford the prescription drugs they need,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy & engagement officer. “The bill that the House passed today includes meaningful reforms to bring down medication costs: finally allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, preventing prices from rising faster than inflation and adding a hard out-of-pocket cap to Part D.”
This measure is one of two major pieces of legislation being pushed by the Biden administration. The other, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs legislation, was passed in Congress and signed by President Biden on Nov. 15.
If it becomes law, the legislation the House passed would have a broad impact on American society. Here are some of the ways the Build Back Better Act could affect millions of older adults.
Medicare. In what could be a big win for older Americans, Medicare would be able to negotiate with manufacturers to make some prescription drugs more affordable. The agency would be able to negotiate the prices of up to 10 drugs per year starting in 2023, with that number eventually becoming up to 20 drugs per year. Drugs would be eligible for negotiation once they’ve been sold for either nine or 12 years, depending on the drug’s makeup.
The legislation also would cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D prescription drugs at $2,000 per year and prices for some insulin at $35 per month. Also, under the BBB legislation, drugmakers would face tax penalties if they increased prices more than the rate of general inflation.