Senator highlights measures to lower prescription drug, health insurance and energy costs
Cardin also celebrates important steps forward on job creation, climate change and agricultural resilience
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works and Senate Finance committees, called the just-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) a crucial boost for Maryland families and our national economy.
“Senate Democrats have stepped up and passed legislation that will make it easier for American families to afford health insurance coverage and prescription drugs, while lowering energy costs and boosting job creation in the growing clean energy sector. We’ve done so while reducing the deficit and without raising taxes on working families and small businesses.
“While a simple majority of Senators can pass a budget reconciliation bill, there was nothing to prevent our Republican colleagues from joining us in supporting this measure to lower essential costs for American families and enhance our economic and national security. These are policies that all Senators and all Members of Congress should embrace. Reconciliation does not have to be a partisan process. Just in the past few weeks and months, the Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS + Science semiconductor manufacturing bill, the Honoring Our PACT Act, and Treaty Document 117-3, which contains Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession of the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden – all with strong bipartisan majorities.
“If asked to choose between lowering health coverage costs for Maryland families and having huge companies pay a minimum, fair share of taxes, there is no contest. I choose Maryland families every day. I find it incomprehensible that anyone – other than billionaires – thinks it is acceptable that most small businesses pay a greater percentage of their income in federal taxes than a company that makes billions of dollars in profits. The bill we passed today changes that calculation and holds companies that make over a billion dollars accountable for paying their fair share of taxes, like everyone else in this country.
HEALTH CARE WINS
“The bill we passed today finally will allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. In the private sector, no plan sponsor or manager would ever accept responsibility without the ability to decide how to negotiate. Medicare negotiation will ensure that patients with Medicare get the best deal possible on high-priced drugs.
“The IRA also extends Affordable Care Act health care premium subsidies through 2025. These enhanced subsidies, first provided through the American Rescue Plan, have guaranteed millions of Americans access to affordable health insurance. Median income Maryland families will save about $2,200 annually because of this provision in the legislation.
CLEAN ENERGY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL WINS
“We need to address climate change by rapidly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and cutting our greenhouse gas emissions. The IRA does that. It will cut our emissions by 40 percent or more by 2030 and put us on track to meet 70 percent of our Paris Accord obligations. The IRA contains roughly $370 billion in clean energy, energy security, and climate change investments that will lower Americans’ electricity bills and prices at the pump and create over 1 million good-paying jobs here in America in the green energy sector.
“I’m pleased the IRA includes a provision I have championed, a production tax credit for our existing fleet of nuclear reactors. They are an essential source of baseload power and provide 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and over 50 percent of our carbon-free electricity. According to the non-partisan Resources for the Future, all told, the IRA will drive down retail costs of electricity by 5.2-6.7 percent over the next decade, saving electricity consumers $209-$278 billion. The average household will experience approximately $170-$220 in annual savings from smaller electricity bills and reductions in the costs of goods and services over the next decade. The clean energy investments will help to insulate ratepayers from volatility in natural gas prices, with electricity rates projected to decrease even under a high natural gas price scenario. More important, the IRA will bolster our economic and national security by reducing reliance on foreign energy supplies.
In addition to the important steps the IRA takes to advance clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the IRA delivers major federal investments to make our communities healthier, safer, and more resilient in the face of increasing impacts of climate change. It provides federal assistance for monitoring environmental quality, mitigating the harmful impacts of air pollution and excessive heat, and enhancing walkability in our neighborhoods. It does this through $3 billion for Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants and $3 billion for Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants. By targeting resources to disadvantaged or underserved communities, the bill advances equity in our infrastructure planning and investments.
“The bill ensures that we are enacting these policies in a fiscally responsible way. By ensuring large companies pay their fair share and dramatically boosting resources for the IRS, this legislation will reduce the deficit by $300 billion or more, ensuring we are not passing along more debt for our children and grandchildren to inherit.
“The IRA includes over $20 billion in funds for climate-smart agricultural practices through existing Farm Bill conservation programs, including $6.75 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and $1 billion for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical assistance on conservation to producers. Many sustainable practices, such as expanding cover crops and riparian buffers that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change, also cost-effectively reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
The bill invests $2.6 billion for the conservation, restoration, and protection of coastal and marine habitats and resources, including fisheries, to enable coastal communities to prepare for extreme storms and other changing climate conditions, as well as $250 million to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System and state wildlife management areas.
“Though there is much to celebrate in this package, there are many priorities that were not included that must be addressed. This includes legislation I have long championed to expand dental coverage to Medicare beneficiaries, as well as to Medicaid beneficiaries, expansions to home and community-based services, and maternal health priorities. Further, it is disappointing that this legislation did not include economic, housing, and community development tax priorities, such as the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, New Markets Tax Credit, and the Historic Tax Credit. And we must find a way to expand access to high-quality, low-cost child care.
“Still, I am pleased with the transformative progress this legislation will make, and I will continue to push for greater health care reform and economic development priorities at every possibly opportunity.”