MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) held a press conference at Amoskeag Health with local healthcare advocates, medical professionals and area residents impacted by pharmaceutical costs to celebrate the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last weekend by the U.S. Senate.
The bill, which includes many portions of what was the Build Back Better Act, the legislative embodiment of President Biden’s agenda, addresses healthcare costs in the United States by allowing Congress to negotiate with providers on pharmaceutical prices for Medicare recipients as well as expand the Affordable Care Act and allow an extension of temporarily expanded insurance subsidy credits.
“(This bill) will help bring down the cost of prescription drugs for not just Medicare patients, but consumers across the board by putting pressure on Big Pharma to lower their prices,” said Hassan.
Hassan added that the bill would help Americans cope with the impact of inflation by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, reducing the deficit through various tax reforms and lowering energy prices.
The press conference was led off by Amoskeag Health Chief Officer for Integrated Health Services Betsy Burtis, who shared stories of Manchester residents who struggle to find money for food and rent on top of various necessary pharmaceutical costs they face each month.
Burtis was enthusiastic about the passage of the bill, not just for the direct benefits toward healthcare costs, but also indirect benefits stemming from climate change initiatives in the bill, such as a tax cut for families that invest in energy efficiency programs. Burtis believes these components of the bill will help alleviate the impact of heat-related illness in urban areas, such as dehydration or heat-induced strokes.
“It was wonderful having this bill passed, particularly for the parts of the bill that won’t get much recognition,” she said. “There is a lot of funding in the bill to help local communities deal with climate change, including lower-income residents in cities. Those people have a tougher time dealing with heat-related health impacts than people in the country due to the concrete of all those buildings trapping in the heat and many people who cannot afford the energy costs that come with air conditioning.”
Hassan expressed frustration with one of the key provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that was not included in the final bill, a price cap on insulin. The provision was not included due to a decision by the Senate Parliamentarian that it could not be included within the rules for reconciliation, which allowed the bill to pass without the need to invoke cloture of a filibuster, which requires at least 60 senators.
She added that she would continue to try and find ways to put a price cap on insulin, stating that there have been no new developments in insulin research in decades that would require unlimited profits on the drug, which is a medical necessity for thousands of Americans with diabetes.
Later in the day, Hassan responded to comments from U.S. Senate Candidate and N.H. Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) regarding insulin costs on WKBK with Dan Mitchell earlier in the morning.
“By opposing a price cap on lifesaving insulin, Chuck Morse has made it crystal clear that he would side with Mitch McConnell and Big Pharma over Granite Staters,” said Hassan. “The people of New Hampshire deserve a Senator who will fight for them — not a rubber stamp for Big Pharma.”