Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Now that the Build Back Better (BBB) Bill has passed the House, it has gone on to the Senate to be debated and voted on.  With all the stuff that is in the Bill, it is hard to know what’s what.  So, here is a list of the key points:

  1.  Climate change – $555 billion to fight against climate change – The bulk of clean energy spending, $320 billion, comes in the form of tax credits for companies and consumers that install solar panels, improve the energy efficiency of buildings and purchase electric vehicles.
  2. Spending also goes towards the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps that would provide some 300,000 jobs to restore forests and wetlands and guard against the effects of rising temperatures; it is somewhat similar to the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps.
  3.  Universal Preschool – $400 billion for free universal preschool for all three and four year olds, which the White House has dubbed the largest expansion in education programs since the creation of public high school.
  4.  Paid Family Leave – $200 billion in this bill creates a permanent, comprehensive national paid leave program that gives employed workers, including those who are self-employed, four weeks of paid family and medical leave, which can be used for caregiving or personal illness.
  5.  Healthcare Premiums – $165 billion of this spending bill reduces health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act and expands Medicare coverage to include hearing benefits.
  6.  Prescription Price Regulation – The BBB Bill also delivers a compromise for taking on Big Pharma over rising drug prices.  It would restrict how much drug makers can increase their prices each year and set an annual limit on out-of-pocket spending, but only after those drugs have been on the market for about a decade.  This means drug companies could still charge an enormous amount for new drugs, with price regulation taking effect nine years later for most common medications and 13 years later for more complicated drugs.  Contrary-wise, out-of-pocket costs for insulin, a protein hormone used to treat diabetes, would be capped at $35 for a 30-day supply, significantly lower than current costs, starting in 2023.
  7.  Affordable Home Care – The plan provides $150 billion in funding for a Medicaid program that supports in-home health care, helping to reduce a backlog of people waiting to receive subsidized home care and improve wages for providers.
  8.  Affordable Housing – Another $150 billion will go towards building more than 1 million new rental and single-family homes.  The bill aims to reduce cost pressures by providing rental and down-payment assistance through an expanded voucher program.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Build Back Better Bill that includes a 10-year “amnesty-lite” in the form of work permits, Social Security numbers, eligibility for welfare benefits, and the ability to get a driver’s license to 4-5 million illegal immigrants.

AARP backs this bill because of the affordable prescription drugs and the paid family leave. These are important, but don’t forget about the rest of the bill!  Let your Senators know how you feel about this bill.  Let your voice be heard!  Don’t forget to thank your Representatives for doing their due diligence and voting on this bill.