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Congress and President Joe Biden are officially on summer vacation, but they left behind a lot of health policy achievements. The president returned this week from his South Carolina beach retreat to sign the Inflation Reduction Act, which, among other things, allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time.
The law also preserves the enhanced subsidies for premiums on insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. Congress added those more generous subsidies in 2021, but they would have expired at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, even though Democrats were unable to secure additional Medicare vision, hearing, and dental benefits into the final version of the budget bill, this week the FDA established ground rules for the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, something ordered by Congress in 2017.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Anna Edney of Bloomberg, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
Despite the new law’s provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, enrollees will have to wait several years to see the benefits of those negotiations. That makes it challenging for Democrats to use the measure as a campaign promotion. Plus, Republicans may try to use the intervening years, while the price negotiating process is being set up, to batter Democrats’ efforts.Other Medicare provisions, such as the new limit on out-of-pocket drug spending and caps on insulin spending, will provide more immediate benefits.The act’s extension of ACA premium subsidies is also a hard victory to illuminate for consumers, who won’t see their costs fall and would likely have only noticed a difference if the measure had failed to pass and the program had ended.Nonetheless, ad campaigns are already beginning to target the Republican opposition to popular health issues. No GOP lawmakers voted to support the measure.Hearing aids fitting the new category are expected to be significantly les …