Update for Week Ending March 26, 2022

Update for Week Ending March 26, 2022

President Again Calls for Lower Drug Prices in his New Budget Proposal

It was just three weeks ago that Congress finally passed legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the current 2022 fiscal year. Now, President Biden has sent to Congress his proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, which will begin on October 1.

It is important to know that the budgets Presidents send to Congress each year never are enacted as is. Instead, they become the starting point for negotiations in Congress and they reflect where the President’s priorities are for the coming fiscal year.

And while indicating his support once again for legislation to lower prescription drug prices as well as funding for other parts of last year’s budget proposal his new budget avoids offering price tags or revenue assessments for them.

White House officials said the budget omitted the details to essentially create a place holder in the document and give Democrats on Capitol Hill the space and flexibility to negotiate a final agreement.

In particular, the President is seeking ways to win the vote of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who almost single-handedly stopped the President’s proposal this year that would have lowered drug prices, among many other things.

The While House had some hopeful news last week when Senator Manchin told climate activists and clean-energy executives that he is interested in restarting negotiations on a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better Act that would focus on climate change, prescription-drug prices, and deficit reduction, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In his new budget proposal the President also promises large-scale efforts to unclog supply-chain bottlenecks that are raising costs.

Last week in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics Conference Cecilia Ross, Head of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, told the group that the President is looking to help address many of the costs in childcare, prescription drug healthcare, and other parts of his Build Back Better proposal. She said he's looking to pass what he can, that this is his agenda and he will be fighting for it every day.  She said he is committed to deficit reduction along the way as well.

The proposal calls for $138 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, a $29.4 billion or 27.1% increase compared to fiscal 2021, which agencies were operating under with some adjustments until passage of this month’s fiscal 2022 spending law.

Also, of interest to many TSCL supporters, the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $135 billion under the proposal, an increase of $30.7 billion, or 29.4%, compared to fiscal 2021.

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President Seeks to Prepare for Future Pandemics

Even as we seem to be getting back to normal in our everyday lives, the new Omicron subvariant virus is spreading in the nation. While it seems to be even more contagious than the original Omicron, it does not generally produce more severe illness.

Health officials believe that we will be all right until late next fall or winter, at which time our immunity from the vaccines will begin to wear off. In the meantime, they will continue to track the virus and make determinations about what to do as the situation develops.

In his new budget proposal, the President would like health agencies to get $81.7 billion in mandatory funding over five years to help prepare for future pandemics.

The administration wants to start a program to give free vaccines to adults without insurance, modeled after the existing one for children, and spend $975 million boosting the nation’s stockpile of disease countermeasures.

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s we continue dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic, TSCL remains constant in our fight for you to protect your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. We’ve had to make some adjustments in the way we carry on our work, but we have not, and will not stop our work on your behalf.

For progress updates or for more information about these and other bills that would strengthen Social Security and Medicare programs, visit our website at www.SeniorsLeague.org or follow TSCL Facebook or on Twitter.