On November 26, 2021, Aimed Alliance sent a letter to U.S. Senators Carper, Coons, Cortez, Masto, Menendez, Murray, Sinema, Schumer and Wyden on the Build Back Better Act. The letter encouraged Senators to retain many of the provisions from the House of Representatives bill that expanded access to healthcare, such as extending postpartum coverage for women 12 months post-pregnancy; providing coverage to inmates 30 days prior to release; placing caps on Medicare Part D spending; and spreading out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans throughout the year. In addition, our comment also expressed concerns regarding forced drug pricing negotiations that would rely on QALYs and limit access to innovative medicines for patients.
This past Sunday, December 19, 2021, Senator Manchin announced he would not be supporting the Build Back Better Act. Therefore, it is unlikely that this legislation will be passed as a comprehensive bill before the end of the year. Aimed Alliance is disappointed that Congress will not be enacting many of the provisions that could have ensured vulnerable patients had expanded access and lower healthcare costs. For example, extending post-partum coverage could have helped address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes and ensured that the 50 percent of postpartum women who reported experiencing postpartum depressions for up to one-year after pregnancy had access to mental health services. Other provisions in the bill could have also helped address the substance misuse and drug poisoning crisis in the United States. Given that recently released individuals are at a heightened risk for drug poisonings, with one study finding that recently released individuals are 129 percent more likely to experience a drug poisoning within two weeks of release than their peers. For these individuals, pre-release healthcare coverage could have helped ensure they were stabilized and had uninterrupted access to substance use disorder treatment upon release.
In 2022, as Congress continues to work on reforming healthcare, we encourage Members to consider reviving many of the provisions in Build Back Better that expanded healthcare coverage and lowered healthcare costs for patients. However, we also urge Congress to consider the concerns we raised surrounding drug pricing reform and its role in limiting patient access to innovative medicines, as well as the role of certain incentives in unintentionally causing non-medical switching. Aimed Alliance’s November 26 letter to Senators can be read here.