A little over a year ago, the Inflation Reduction Act became law. And now, I’m thrilled to travel coast to coast on a national bus tour with Protect Our Care to celebrate this achievement and share the news about all the changes in our health care system over the last few years under the Biden administration. .
Our team was thrilled to visit Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh last week with Congresswoman Valerie Fousheet to share this great news and thank Representatives Alma Adams, Kathy Manning and Deborah Ross for their votes for lower drug prices and better care. .
When I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer six years ago, I was lucky enough to have good insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a small business owner, I used to have junk insurance. Prior to the ACA’s approval, the self-employed and small businesses had little or no choice in terms of insurance coverage. Plans often also excluded pre-existing conditions, or insurance companies would refuse to take out a policy if they thought you might need care.
So even though I was healthy at the time, I immediately applied for good coverage once the Healthcare.gov health insurance marketplace opened in 2014.
If I was stuck with a junk insurance plan in 2017, I’d be broke or dead. I could never have afforded the six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation treatments that it took for me to be in remission today.
We live in a country where many still cannot afford or do not have access to the care they need. But under the leadership of President Biden and the Democrats in Congress, we continue to make progress.
Under the Reducing Inflation Act, people on Medicare already have their insulin copayments capped at $35/month. Pressure from this measure has already forced insulin manufacturers to lower the price of insulin for many people also not covered by Medicare. Basic preventive care, like the new shingles vaccine, is free, and big drug companies are forced to keep drug price increases below the cost of inflation. And millions of working middle-class Americans like myself who originally did not qualify for help paying for their ACA health insurance plans now get assistance.
There will soon be a maximum amount of $2,000 per year for Medicare prescription drugs. For the first time, Medicare will be allowed to negotiate drug prices: the first 10 drugs will be announced on September 1, saving seniors hard-earned money.
The Reducing Inflation Act is just one of many ways the Biden administration is moving America forward in health care. Surprise bills can happen after a hospitalization or medical crisis, when one or more of the doctors who treat us are not covered by our health insurance. When your health insurance refuses to pay, you can be hit with a huge bill.
I had to fight a nearly $100,000 hospitalization bill after my initial cancer diagnosis because my initial treatment hospital was out of network. No one should go through these battles while trying to survive cancer, heart attack, stroke or other emergency. The No Surprises Act, implemented in 2022, means that you and I will no longer have to face surprise medical bills or at least have a new way to combat them.
President Biden also controlled junk insurance plans, plans I used to keep that are famous for refusing to cover necessary and expensive care when you get sick or injured. Too many people are fooled by deceptively low monthly prices, pages and pages of fine print that anyone without a law degree could understand, and sometimes agents lured by fat commissions to steer people towards poor plans. Then, when Americans need their insurance most, they discover how little is actually covered.
More work needs to be done so that everyone in North Carolina can receive the care they deserve. In particular, the Republican-controlled state legislature needs to stop obstructing and expand Medicaid to North Carolina’s working families now.
But we need to recognize the gains we’ve made so far. Support healthcare advocates who will continue to push for lower costs and better care while protecting the care we have today.
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