On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. The new law contains climate and health care provisions that will benefit people with asthma and allergies.
How Will the Inflation Reduction Act Address Climate Change?
The law includes a $369 billion investment to fight climate change in the United States. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by the year 2030.
There is a direct link between climate change, allergies, asthma, and health equity. In the U.S., the burden of asthma falls disproportionately on Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations. These groups have higher rates of poor asthma outcomes, including hospital stays and deaths. These are the same groups that have higher exposure to air pollution that is made worse by climate change.
Here are some of the ways reducing the impact of climate change will affect you, either directly or indirectly. The law provides:
- Incentives for businesses and people to make cleaner energy choices
- A $9 billion consumer home energy rebate program to help low-income households power home appliances and make their homes more energy efficient
- Tax credits to help people make their homes more energy efficient and to run on clean energy
- Tax credits to help low- and middle-income people buy electric vehicles
- Major investments in communities that will promote environmental justice
- A $3 billion environmental and climate justice block grant program for community-led projects to address the unbalanced impact of air pollution and climate change
- A $3 billion neighborhood access and equity grant program to promote neighborhood equity, safety, and access to affordable transportation
- A $1 billion grant program for clean heavy-duty vehicles like school buses
- $50 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help disadvantaged communities address air pollution in and around schools
AAFA is thrilled that Congress listened to our repeated requests to address air pollution in schools by increased funding for the EPA. This is one of 19 public policy recommendations included in AAFA’s Asthma Disparities in America report.
How Will the Inflation Reduction Act Improve Access to Health Care?
The law will improve access to health care for people with Medicare and people who buy health care coverage through their state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. Anyone who is lawfully present in the United States can buy health insurance coverage through the Marketplace. It largely serves people who do not have access to health insurance coverage from a job and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.
These are some of the law’s key health provisions that could impact you:
- Starting in 2025, Medicare patients will not pay more than $2,000 out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year.
In 2020, 1.4 million Medicare enrollees paid more than $2,000 for prescription drugs. Under the new law, out-of-pocket drug costs for people with Medicare will be capped at $2,000 annually. If you have Medicare and take costly drugs for asthma or other conditions, this may help limit your out-of-pocket spending. The cap applies to the total cost of all prescription medicines you take.
- Starting in 2026, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be required to negotiate Medicare drug prices for 10 high-cost drugs. In future years, more drugs will be added to the initial 10. Drug makers will also have to pay a rebate to the Medicare program if the price of the drug rises faster than inflation.
We do not know yet if the negotiation provision will affect asthma drugs. Also, we have yet to see how the rebate provision will impact overall drug pricing across the market. AAFA will continue to watch how these provisions impact our community.
- Enhanced advance premium tax credits (APTCs) in the ACA Marketplace are extended another three years. These tax credits make Marketplace insurance premiums cost less for people at middle income levels.
The three-year extension of enhanced APTCs is progress, but AAFA will continue to advocate for a permanent extension. We also hope that policymakers will continue to address unresolved issues for our community, including:
- Patients’ high out-of-pocket costs for prescription medicine
- The Medicaid coverage gap for low-income adults in states that have failed to expand their Medicaid programs.
AAFA looks forward to working more with Congress to reduce the burden of disease and improve access to care for people with asthma and allergies.
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