Washington, DC – The National Health Law Program welcomes the news that congressional leaders and the White House agreed on the contents of the Build Back Better Act. This $1.75 trillion legislation promises to positively impact the lives and well-being of millions of individuals and families across the nation. The bill seeks to address longstanding inequities in health care and broader racial injustices in health; provide new economic and social supports for low- and middle-income individuals and families; and help fight climate change.
We look forward to the Build Back Better Act being signed into law.
“The United States is at a crossroads. Pervasive and systemic inequities are being exacerbated by the pandemic and exploitative economic practices. The Build Back Better Act provides a start to address and ameliorate these intersecting issues and build a more just society,” said Mara Youdelman, managing attorney of NHeLP’s DC office. “We know that this was a hard-fought compromise, and while it is not as ambitious as we would have hoped it will still be transformative for millions of individuals and families.”
“The $150 billion investment in home-and community-based services (HCBS) promises to reduce historic inequities and improve the lives of people with disabilities, older adults, family caregivers, and direct support workers. It would be a massive investment in these chronically underfunded services and provide better wages for direct care workers, many of whom are women of color,” said NHeLP senior attorney Jennifer Lav. “There is much to celebrate in this bill, and if enacted, the Build Back Better Act would be a profound victory. Advocates, however, must continue to fight for even more robust funding for HCBS to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the rights afforded to them by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision.”
“A dozen states’ refusals to implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion have left millions of people with low incomes, primarily Black and Latinx people in the South, without lifesaving health coverage,” said NHeLP staff attorney Madeline Morcelle. “The Build Back Better Act throws uninsured people a vital life raft: temporary access to the ACA’s Marketplace plans. Yet those plans typically lack many Medicaid benefits and consumer protections. NHeLP will continue to advocate for an equitable long-term solution that guarantees people in the Medicaid coverage gap a right to the same standard of health coverage that current Medicaid expansion enrollees get.”
NHeLP also commends Congress for taking aim at our unconscionable Black and Indigenous maternal mortality epidemic by requiring year long post-pregnancy coverage in Medicaid and CHIP, and including every provision of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act eligible for budget reconciliation.
We also support additional policies in the Build Back Better Act including: guaranteeing a full year of Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children up to age 19; providing significant increased and permanent Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories; extending pandemic-related enhanced Medicaid funding to prevent millions from losing Medicaid coverage; making Money Follows the Person and protections from spousal impoverishment permanent; temporarily increasing funding for states that have already expanded Medicaid; adding coverage for hearing benefits in Medicare; and making CHIP permanent along with other positive CHIP reforms.
Text of the bill can be found here.