In August 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It’s a landmark law for both lung health and climate change. This is the second of two blog posts looking back on progress under the Inflation Reduction Act, focusing on healthcare. Check out the first blog on air quality and climate change.

The Inflation Reduction Act has made great strides toward improving access to quality and affordable healthcare. The law extended the enhanced advance premium tax credits until the end of 2025, allowing middle- and low-income families to afford health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. The Marketplace has now reached a record high of over 16 million enrollees who are receiving quality health coverage, with four out of five people able to find a plan that gives them quality and affordable healthcare for $10 or less.

The law also limited out-of-pocket prescription costs for seniors in Medicare Part D. Many patients with lung disease struggle to afford medication they need to manage their conditions, and a recent KFF poll found that 3 in 10 people skip their prescribed medication due to costs. With this cap, Medicare patients will pay no more than $2,000 for their prescription drugs starting in 2025. Patients will also be able to make payments over the course of a year if they choose through the Medicare Prescription Payment Plan. 

In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act included two crucial bills related to vaccine coverage: the Helping Adults Protect Immunity (HAPI) Act and the Protecting Seniors Act. The HAPI Act ensured that all Medicaid enrollees have access to CDC-recommended vaccines at no cost. Previously, state Medicaid programs were only required to cover recommended vaccines for Medicaid expansion enrollees, not the millions of people enrolled in traditional Medicaid. This coverage will begin October 1, 2023. The Protecting Seniors Act removed copayments for CDC-recommended vaccines covered under Medicare Part D. In 2021, Medicare Part D enrollees spent $234 million in out-of-pocket costs for vaccines. But beginning January 1, 2023, more than 50 million seniors in Medicare Part D no longer faced out-of-pocket costs for recommended vaccines. 

What’s Next?

The American Lung Association looks forward to the continued successful implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act and its healthcare components. We will remain engaged in the regulatory process with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide feedback on implementation issues as the remaining parts of the law are underway. It is critical that CMS consider patient input and closely monitor implementation for any unintended consequences throughout this process. 

And at the same time, the Lung Association is defending the progress Congress made by passing the Inflation Reduction Act from current efforts that threaten access to quality, affordable healthcare. More than 7 million people have lost access to their Medicaid coverage as a result of the end of the COVID-19 healthcare protections. Many of these individuals lost their coverage not because they were no longer eligible, but simply because of paperwork and IT system issues. People should not lose their healthcare because of administrative red tape. 

Join us in urging Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra at Health and Human Services to protect access to care by pausing Medicaid redeterminations and taking corrective action in states that are disenrolling high numbers of beneficiaries.

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