Government Affairs and Advocacy

Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act into Law

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August 22, 2022

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. This historic piece of legislation will impact health care costs, corporate tax rates, clean energy incentives, and IRS funding. The law passed through the Senate along party lines, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, and then through the House of Representatives, 220-207. Here is a detailed breakdown of the health care provisions that will interest our network the most.

Prescription Drugs Under Medicare Part B and D

  • From 2026-2029, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department will be required to negotiate the price of the 20 most expensive drugs that have been on the market for more than seven years (11 years for a type of drugs known as biologics).
  • Beginning in 2023, if drugmakers raise their prices faster than inflation, they will pay a rebate to the government equal to the difference in profits and the cost of inflation or face a penalty.
  • Starting in 2025, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year.
  • Vaccines will require no cost-sharing beginning in 2023.
  • From 2023-2025, at most, insulin copayments for Medicare beneficiaries will cost $35 a month. After this period, the cap will be $35 per month or 25% of a maximum price negotiated by HHS, whichever is lower.

Affordable Care Act Subsidies

  • The Inflation Reduction Act extends subsidies established in the American Rescue Plan, passed in 2021. They were set to expire in 2022 but will now continue through 2025.
  • The subsidies cover health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, impacting approximately 13 million people.
  • Households with income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level pay no more than 0-8.5% of their income on premiums, depending on their income level. Pre-subsidies, these households paid 2-9.78% of their income on premiums.
  • Households with income between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level pay no premiums.
  • Households that receive unemployment compensation pay no premiums.
  • Households with income above 400% of the federal poverty level, including many middle-class families, are also eligible for subsidies if their premium costs exceed 8.5% of their household income.

Joint Letter from Schomburg and Gray on Child Support Payments

Aysha Schomburg, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau (CB), and Tanguler Gray, commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OSCE), released a joint letter discouraging child welfare agencies from referring parents to child support agencies when their child enters foster care. In many cases, parents must pay child support to cover the cost of foster care. However, Schomburg and Gray believe that, in most cases, these parents are already struggling economically and do not need additional financial hurdles to overcome as they try to reunite with their children.

Moreover, the letter cites a study that shows that higher child support payments are associated with increased time before reunification—harming both parents and children. It also cites two additional studies that find that government money spent collecting child support payments far outweighs payments themselves. Given these realities, Schomburg and Gray encourage IV-E agencies to stop automatically referring cases to child support offices. They say that the CB and the OSCE are willing to help agencies implement this change, including offering IV-E administrative funds to help implement necessary changes to data systems.

New Housing Grant Awards for Youth Aging out of Foster Care

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 14 public housing agencies in 12 states will receive grants to provide housing assistance to youth aging out of foster care. In total, $621,000 is allocated to cover 60 Housing Choice Vouchers for youth in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The grant program, called the Foster Youth to Independence Program, serves foster youth who are 18-24 years old and have left or are about to leave foster care. It also serves all foster youth 16 years old or older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The vouchers last for 36 months.

Senators Write Letter Supporting Student Debt Relief for Public Service Workers and Others

Twenty-two Senate Democrats, including Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, wrote a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, expressing support for the Department of Education’s proposed rules concerning student debt relief. These rules would help borrowers whose schools closed or defrauded them and borrowers who are disabled and/or work in public service organizations. Regarding the last group, the letter lauds the multiple ways the department proposes to categorize more types of monthly payments as eligible for the 120 necessary to receive loan forgiveness. The senators also encourage the secretary to expand the types of positions eligible for forgiveness to include for-profit early childhood education employees and self-employed independent contractors working full time at qualifying organizations. The department plans to finalize the rules by Nov. 1. The administration has already forgiven $26 billion for 1.3 million federal student loan borrowers through executive action.

Indian Child Welfare Act Webinar Showed What’s at Stake this Fall

On Aug. 11, Social Current CEO Jody Levison-Johnson and Sarah Kastelic, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, hosted a webinar on the upcoming Supreme Court case Brackeen v. Haaland. The lawsuit challenges the legitimacy of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, considered by many experts to be the “gold standard” in child welfare because it prioritizes placement of native foster children in extended families and within tribal communities whenever possible. Levison-Johnson noted that research supports ICWA by consistently showing that kids thrive when they grow up with their family, community, and culture.

Kastelic spoke about the history of the harmful policies of the federal government leading up to ICWA, including forced assimilation through boarding schools and family separation through the child welfare system. She also explained how these practices of taking children from their families fit with common colonialist actions worldwide.

Regarding the Supreme Court Case, Kastelic argued that the challenge to ICWA is not just about the future of native children but also tribal sovereignty. If the Supreme Court rules against the ICWA, it may be the start of an effort to chip away at tribes’ ability to govern themselves and do what is best for their citizens.

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