05 October 2021
California Medical Association (CMA) urges Congress to address two of our nation’s highest healthcare priorities in President Biden’s Build Back Better social programs infrastructure legislation – permanent access to health insurance more affordable through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reduced prescription drug costs.
Access to affordable health insurance
The ACA has provided subsidized health care coverage to nearly 9 million people who have purchased coverage with the help of federal premiums. However, millions more remain uninsured despite being eligible. Some uninsured did not purchase ACA insurance because their income did not qualify them for tax credits or assistance; other uninsured who were eligible were unaware of the financial assistance available or still found the coverage unaffordable.
Fortunately, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 extended eligibility for tax credits and ACA assistance for Medicare to those with incomes above 400% of the threshold. federal poverty. This means that most uninsured people are now eligible for financial assistance. The law also increased the amount of financial assistance for low-income people. Due to the adoption of ARPA, ACA coverage has increased by 20% and the average savings per family will be at least $ 70 per month. In fact, 4 in 10 uninsured are eligible for a free or almost free health plan.
Unfortunately, these provisions were only authorized for two years. The CMA urges Congress to ensure the long-term stability, affordability and effectiveness of the ACA by making the provisions of the ARPA permanent.
Reduce the cost of prescription drugs
Patient spending on prescription drugs has doubled since the 1990s. According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 80% of Americans think prescription drugs are too expensive and half of all adults say they don’t. not fill their prescriptions reliably because of the cost. Doctors are concerned about the impact on the health of patients.
The Medicare drug pricing provision in the Build Back Better plan would save patients thousands of dollars on prescription drugs each year, not only Medicare patients, but also those with private insurance. The bill allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices on many of the more expensive drugs directly with drug companies, including all insulin-based drugs. These lower prices would also be available to private insurers – allowing tens of millions of people to benefit. By 2024, Medicare would be required to negotiate a minimum of 25 drugs with the greatest savings potential and at least 50 drugs in subsequent years. And drugmakers would be required to pay rebates on the amount they raise in price relative to inflation. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that negotiating Medicare drug prices would reduce net drug prices by 55% on average for Medicare and privately insured patients. The CMA is urging the adoption of this important drug price reform.
Pathways to Practice Act
The legislation would also allow the Pathways to Practice program, an innovative landmark program that will allow more rural, marginalized and minority students to go to medical school and choose a career in medicine as physicians who are on the move. ‘will ultimately occupy patients in underserved areas. It is important to note that it not only provides help with tuition fees but also stipends. It is also increasing the number of higher medical education (GME) positions in ACGME accredited institutions to provide more medical residency training opportunities. Students who receive such assistance will be required to serve in underserved areas.
The CMA strongly supports this program. Creating a pathway for more marginalized and minority students to practice medicine will improve access to care for traditionally underserved patient populations, advance race-based clinical decision models, and ensure that health care disparities are taken into account. This is an important step forward in helping our country fight racial injustice and advance health equity. This will lead to real improvements in building a more equitable health care system for providers and patients.