Tag Archives: Biden Administration

FACT SHEET: President Biden Cancels Student Debt for 150,000 Student Loan Borrowers; 3.9 Million Already Eligible for $138 Billion in Relief

From Day 1, the President vowed to fix the broken loan system and make sure education was a pathway to the middle class, not a barrier,” a White House spokesperson stated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet provided by the White House documents the latest efforts by the Biden Administration to relieve the burden of student debt. It is the latest in more than 25 actions that have resulted in $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers.

“From Day 1, the President vowed to fix the broken loan system and make sure education was a pathway to the middle class, not a barrier,” a White House spokesperson stated. “ He has cancelled more student debt than any president – $138 billion for 3.9 million – fixing public service loan forgiveness, affecting 800,000 nurses, firefighters, teachers and others. Before, only 7,000 got relief. He has held colleges accountable for defrauding borrowers who paid over 20 years but never got the relief they were entitled to. The President’s actions have allowed over 4 million to afford homes, businesses, pursue the dreams they had to put on hold because of student loan, but are no longer weighed down by burden of student debt.” – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, President Biden announced the approval of $1.2 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 153,000 borrowers currently enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan. The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers through more than two dozen executive actions. The borrowers receiving relief are the first to benefit from a SAVE plan policy that provides debt forgiveness to borrowers who have been in repayment after as little as 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in student loans. Originally planned for July, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented this provision of SAVE and is providing relief to borrowers nearly six months ahead of schedule.

From Day One of his Administration, President Biden vowed to fix the student loan system and make sure higher education is a pathway to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity. Already, the President has cancelled more student debt than any President in history – delivering life-changing relief to students and families – and has created the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever: the SAVE plan. While Republicans in Congress and their allies try to block President Biden every step of the way, the Biden-Harris Administration continues to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, and is leaving no stone unturned in the fight to give more borrowers breathing room on their student loans.

Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, starting today, the Administration will be cancelling debt for borrowers who are enrolled in the SAVE plan, have been in repayment for at least 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in loans for college. For every additional $1,000 a borrower initially borrowed, they will receive relief after an additional year of payments. For example, a borrower enrolled in SAVE who took out $14,000 or less in federal loans to earn an associate’s degree in biotechnology would receive full debt relief starting this week if they have been in repayment for 12 years. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) identified nearly 153,000 borrowers who are enrolled in SAVE plan who will have their debt cancelled starting this week, and those borrowers will receive an email today from President Biden informing them of their imminent relief. Next week, the Department of Education will also be reaching out directly to borrowers who are eligible for early relief but not currently enrolled in the SAVE Plan to encourage them to enroll as soon as possible.
 
This shortened time to forgiveness will particularly help community college and other borrowers with smaller loans and put many on track to being free of student debt faster than ever before. Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, 85 percent of future community college borrowers will be debt free within 10 years. The Department will continue to regularly identify and discharge other borrowers eligible for relief under this provision on SAVE.
 
Over four million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment under the SAVE Plan

Last year, President Biden launched the SAVE plan – the most affordable repayment plan ever. Under the SAVE plan, monthly payments are based on a borrower’s income and family size, not their loan balance. The SAVE plan ensures that if borrowers are making their monthly payments, their balances cannot grow because of unpaid interest. And, starting in July, undergraduate loan payments will be cut in half, capping a borrower’s loan payment at 5% of their discretionary income. Already, 7.5 million borrowers are enrolled in the SAVE Plan, and 4.3 million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment.  

Today, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released an issue brief highlighting how low and middle-income borrowers enrolled in SAVE could see significant saving in terms of interest saved over time and principal forgiven as a result of SAVE’s early forgiveness provisions.



President Biden’s Administration has approved student debt relief for nearly 3.9 million Americans through various actions

Today’s announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s track record of taking historic action to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved debt cancellation for nearly 3.9 million Americans, totaling almost $138 billion in debt relief through various actions. This relief has given borrowers critical breathing room in their daily lives, allowing them to afford other expenses, buy homes, start businesses, or pursue dreams they had to put on hold because of the burden of student loan debt. President Biden remains committed to providing debt relief to as many borrowers as possible, and won’t stop fighting to deliver relief to more Americans.

The Biden-Harris Administration has also taken historic steps to improve the student loan program and make higher education more affordable for more Americans, including:

  • Achieving the largest increases in Pell Grants in over a decade to help families who earn less than $60,000 a year achieve their higher-education goals.
     
  • Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so that borrowers who go into public service get the debt relief they’re entitled to under the law. Before President Biden took office, only 7,000 people ever received debt relief through PSLF. After fixing the program, the Biden-Harris Administration has now cancelled student loan debt for nearly 800,000 public service workers.
     
  • Cancelling student loan debt for more than 930,000 borrowers who have been in repayment for over 20 years but never got the relief they earned because of administrative failures with Income-Driven Repayment Plans.
     
  • Pursuing an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Administration’s original debt relief plan. Last week, the Department of Education released proposed regulatory text to cancel student debt for borrowers who are experiencing hardship paying back their student loans, and late last year released proposals to cancel student debt for borrowers who: owe more than they borrowed, first entered repayment 20 or 25 years ago, attended low quality programs, and who would be eligible for loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment programs like SAVE but have not applied.
     
  • Holding colleges accountable for leaving students with unaffordable debts.

It’s easy to enroll in SAVE. Borrowers should go to studentaid.gov/save to start saving.

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Calls on Congress to Immediately Pass Bipartisan National Security Agreement with Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Most Americans can trace their roots back to Ellis Island, when America, desperate for workers to build roads, bridges, railroads, factories and skyscrapers, wanted workers. Now, despite still needing workers, and decrying the “border crisis” as an “invasion” endangering national security, House Republicans are calling a bipartisan immigration deal that gives them everything they have asked for (border security, changing asylum laws) “dead on arrival” in order to appease Trump, so desperate to refuse Biden a “victory” and keep the inflammatory issue alive for his campaign. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration strongly supports the bipartisan agreement announced in the Senate that would address a number of pressing national security issues. President Biden has repeatedly said he is willing to work in a bipartisan way to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system. From his first day in office, he has called on Congress to act and over the course of several months, his administration has worked with a bipartisan group of Senators on important reforms and necessary funding.

This agreement, if passed into law, would be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve had in decades. It will make our country safer, make our border more secure, and treat people fairly and humanely while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation. This bipartisan national security agreement would also advance our national security interests by continuing our support for the people of Ukraine and Israel as they defend themselves against tyranny and terrorism while also providing much-needed humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by conflicts around the world. The Biden-Harris Administration calls on Congress to not delay and immediately pass the bipartisan national security agreement.
 
Provides Temporary Emergency Authority for the President to Shut Down the Border When the System is Overwhelmed

  • Establishes a new temporary authority, the “Border Emergency Authority,” that allows the President and Secretary of Homeland Security to temporarily prohibit individuals from seeking asylum, with limited exceptions, when the Southwest Border is overwhelmed. The authority preserves access to other protections, consistent with our international obligations, and will sunset after three years.
    • Importantly, this authority is to be used when the number of migrants encountered at the border reaches very high levels – levels that strain the U.S. government’s ability to process migrants.  Additionally, the authority is limited to a set number of days each calendar year – in the third year of implementation the authority may only be exercised for half of a given calendar year.
    • The United States is a country of refuge for those fleeing persecution. For that reason, the legislation requires asylum access be preserved for a minimum number of individuals per day, limited to those using a safe and orderly process at ports of entry, when the authority is invoked.

 
Expedites Access to Work Authorization for Hundreds of Thousands of Migrants

  • Ensures that those who are here and qualify are able to get to work faster. It provides work authorization to asylum seekers once they receive a positive protection screening determination. This will allow asylum seekers to begin to support themselves and their families in the United States much earlier than the current 180-day statutorily required waiting period, which only begins after an individual submits an asylum application.  This will also reduce the resource strain on our cities and states who have been supporting asylum seekers during this existing waiting period.
    • This bill provides work authorization to approximately 25,000 K-1, K-2, and K-3 nonimmigrant visa holders (fiancé or spouse and children of U.S. citizens) per year, and about 100,000 H-4 spouses and children of certain H-1B nonimmigrant visa holders who have completed immigrant petitions (temporary skilled workers) per year, so they no longer have to apply and wait for approval before they can begin working in the United States.

 
Establishes an Efficient and Fair Process for Consideration of Asylum and other Protection Claims by those arriving at our Southwest Border

  • Today, the process to get to a final decision on a migrant’s asylum claim can take 5-7 years.  That is far too long.  Once fully implemented, this bipartisan agreement would – for the first time – give the Administration the authority and resources to reduce that process to 6 months.  This gets people quick decisions on their asylum claims rather than leaving them and their families in limbo for years.
    • The agreement also for the first time gives Asylum Officers the authority to grant a claim at the protection screening stage if the case is clear and convincing, thereby reducing the strain on the asylum system.

 
Recalibrates the Asylum Screening Process

  • Moves consideration of statutory bars to asylum eligibility, such as criminal convictions, into the screening stage. This will ensure that those who pose a public safety or national security risk are removed as quickly in the process as possible rather than remaining in prolonged, costly detention prior to removal.
    • Modifies the screening threshold for asylum from “significant possibility” to “reasonable possibility,” with the goal of making it more likely that those who are screened in to pursue protection claims are ultimately found to have a valid asylum claim.  Currently, of all migrants screened in and allowed to go to the next phase, only roughly 20 percent are ultimately granted asylum. 

 
Provides Critical Funding for Combatting Smuggling and Drug Trafficking, Border Security, and Asylum Processing 

  • Funds the installation of 100 cutting-edge inspection machines to help detect fentanyl at our Southwest Border ports of entry. 
    • Over 1,500 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel including Border Patrol Agents and CBP Officers. 
    • Over 4,300 new Asylum Officers and additional U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services staff to facilitate timely and fair decisions. 
    • 100 new immigration judge teams to help reduce the asylum caseload backlog and adjudicate cases more quickly. 
    • Shelter and critical services for newcomers in our cities and states.  
    • 1,200 new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel for functions including enforcement and deportations. 
    • More resources to fund transportation needs to enable increased removals. 
    • Support to partner nations hosting large numbers of migrants and refugees, and funding to partner nations to ensure cooperation in accepting returns associated with the implementation of the Border Emergency Authority. 

 
Strengthens Federal Law Against Fentanyl Trafficking

  • Declares that international trafficking of fentanyl is a national emergency and gives the President authority to impose sanctions on any foreign person knowingly involved in significant trafficking of fentanyl by a transnational criminal organization.
    • Allows for transfer of sanctioned persons’ forfeited property to forfeiture funds and authorizes Treasury to impose additional restrictions against sanctioned persons upon a determination that their transactions are of primary money laundering concern.
    • Directs Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue guidance on filing suspicious transactions reports related to fentanyl trafficking by transnational criminal organizations.

 
Increases Lawful Pathways to Come to the United States

  • For the first time in over 30 years, raises the cap on the number of immigrant visas available annually by adding an additional 250,000 immigrant visas over 5 years (50,000/year).  160,000 of these visas will be family-based, and the other 90,000 will be employment-based.
    • These additional immigrant visas expand lawful pathways to the United States, prioritizing family reunification and reducing the time families have to spend apart, and get U.S. businesses access to additional workers.
    • Establishes a faster pathway to permanent status for the approximately 76,000 Afghan allies who entered the United States under Operation Allies Welcome and their families.

 
Promotes Family Unity and Stability for Noncitizens

  • Provides relief to over 250,000 individuals who came to the United States as children on their parents’ work visa.  These individuals have resided lawfully in the United States since they were children and have established lives here in the U.S but have since “aged out” of continuing to receive lawful status through their parents and have no other means of lawfully remaining in the United States with their families. Noncitizens who lived lawfully in the United States as a dependent child of an employment-based nonimmigrant for at least 8 years before turning 21 will be eligible to remain temporarily in the United States with work authorization.
    • In support of family unity, the bill makes clear that certain noncitizens can travel to the United States on a temporary visitor (B) visa to visit their family members.

 
Ensure the Humane and Fair Treatment of Those Seeking Asylum, Especially the Most Vulnerable 

  • Children should not be expected to represent themselves in a court – and this agreement will provide, for the first time, government-mandated and funded legal counsel for unaccompanied children age 13 or younger as they go through the process to seek asylum.  The bill would also provide counsel to particularly vulnerable, mentally incompetent adults.
    • Strengthens legal requirements that migrants always be provided with clear and accessible information about their rights, including their right to counsel.
    • Mandates that only trained Asylum Officers are permitted to conduct protection screenings.

 
Ukraine:

  • Provides critically-needed military aid to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Russian aggression.  Russia continues to launch aerial assaults on Ukrainian cities and is actively attacking Ukrainian forces. 
    • Invests in our defense industrial base, supporting American jobs across our country, and produce weapons and equipment that the United States can send Ukraine to help Ukraine’s military protect its people, defend against Russian attacks, and succeed on the battlefield. 
    • Enables the United States to continue to send economic assistance to Ukraine. Putin has made destroying Ukraine’s economy central to his war strategy and boosting Ukraine’s economy is essential to its survival. If Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting. This aid will help Ukraine pay its first responders, import basic goods, and provide essential services to its population. 
       

Israel:

  • Authorizes the United States to provide additional military aid to help Israel defend itself from Hamas, which committed horrific acts of terror on October 7th, and whose leaders have pledged to repeat the attacks of October 7th over and over again until Israel is annihilated.  
    • The aid in this agreement will also help Israel replenish its air defenses and ensure it is prepared for any future contingencies. 
    • This includes its defense against Iran and groups backed by Iran, including Hezbollah. The funding in this agreement is essential to supporting Israel’s short- and long-term defense needs against a broad array of immediate and future threats.  

 
Humanitarian Aid:

  • Includes important humanitarian aid funding to help civilians in need around the world, whether it’s to address the spillover effects of Putin’s war and help Ukrainians who have been displaced by Russia’s invasion, or to help Palestinians in Gaza, where we are actively working to increase the flow of aid for Palestinian civilians who have nothing to do with Hamas.

 
Indo-Pacific:

  • Provides resources to help our allies and partners in the region build the capabilities necessary to address threats from an increasingly assertive PRC and to meet emerging challenges. It is critically important that we maintain our focus on the Indo-Pacific and preserve peace and stability. 

FACT SHEET: Dozens of Pharma Companies Raised Prices Faster than Inflation, Triggering Medicare Rebates, While Republicans Work to Insure Giveaways to Big Pharma, Higher Costs for Seniors, Families

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act cracks down on Big Pharma price gouging, saving some seniors thousands of dollars per dose of medication. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans push for giveaways to drug industry

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act cracks down on Big Pharma price gouging, saving some seniors thousands of dollars per dose of medication. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans push for giveaways to drug industry © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden visited the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Washington, D.C. to announce that dozens of pharmaceutical companies will be required to pay rebates to Medicare for outrageous price hikes on prescription drugs that over 750,000 seniors take per year. For the last quarter of 2023, 48 Medicare Part B drugs raised their prices faster than inflation, and some drug companies raised prices of certain medications faster than inflation for every quarter over the last year. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act cracks down on this exorbitant price gouging, requiring these companies to pay rebates back to Medicare, saving seniors who take these drugs between $1 and $2,786 per dose on their medication.

President Biden vowed to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and families – and he is delivering on that promise. His Inflation Reduction Act finally allows Medicare to directly negotiate lower prescription drug prices, capped the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries at $35, made recommended adult vaccines free, requires drug companies to pay rebates if they raise prices faster than the rate of inflation, and locked in savings of $800 per year on health insurance for nearly 15 million Americans. While Republicans in Congress fight tooth and nail to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and put money back in the pockets of Big Pharma, President Biden won’t back down from the fight to lower costs for hardworking Americans and make sure every family has access to affordable health care.

The Biden-Harris Administration announced:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new list of 48 Medicare Part B drugs that raised their prices faster than inflation, and may be subject to inflation rebates in the first quarter of 2024 as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act. President Biden’s prescription drug law cracks down on price gouging from Big Pharma, requiring companies to pay back Medicare if they raise prices on seniors at a higher rate than inflation. Starting in January, some Medicare beneficiaries who take these 48 prescription drugs – including drugs used to treat cancer and fight infections – will have lower coinsurance than what they would have paid otherwise, and their out-of-pocket costs may decrease by $1 to as much as $2,786 per average dose.

Over the last four quarters, 64 drugs in total had prices that increased faster than inflation and may be subject to inflation rebates because of the Inflation Reduction Act. Some drugs, such as Signifor, used to treat an endocrine disorder, raised prices faster than inflation every quarter since the Inflation Reduction Act’s inflation rebate provision went into effect. Some Medicare beneficiaries who take Signifor could save $311 per monthly dose starting January because of the law.
 
The Administration is focused on making sure medications developed with taxpayer funds are available to Americans at reasonable prices. On average, Americans pay 2 to 3 times more than consumers in other developed countries for prescription drugs. Last week, the Administration announced a proposal to put drug companies on notice if products developed using federal funds are not made available to the public on reasonable terms, including based on price. The proposal would promote the federal government’s ability to license a patent — such as those used to create life-saving drugs — to a competitor with the goal of increasing competition and bringing costs down for families.
 
Building off last week’s announcement, today HHS announced that the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is making fair pricing a standard part of contract negotiations for medical products developed or purchased as part of its commitment to obtain best value for the US taxpayer. In September 2023, ASPR finalized a Project NextGen contract agreement for a potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatment being developed by Regeneron stating if the product is commercialized, its list price in the United States will be equal to or less than its retail price in comparable global markets. Since then, ASPR has also included similar language in recent agreements with CastleVax, Codagenix and Gritstone Bio, developers of the first three vaccines selected for development within Project NextGen. These clauses will be in effect if and when a company’s candidate vaccine is selected to move into ASPR-supported Phase 2b trials to evaluate clinical safety and efficacy.These actions are the result of a successful and collaborative approach by ASPR and its industry partners and show HHS’s commitment to keep Americans from paying unfair prices for the care they need.

  • HHS is releasing new data on the ten drugs selected for Medicare Drug Price Negotiation. For Medicare enrollees who take these drugs, their out-of-pocket spending on the 10 drugs selected for negotiation represents, on average, over half of their total Part D out-of-pocket spending. The report shows that total Medicare spending on the 10 drugs more than doubled from 2018 to 2022 – a rate that was 3 times faster than all Part D drugs over the same period. The report also shows that 7 of the 10 drugs selected received direct at least one form of federal support towards their drug development or utilized a federal-funded invention for their development.

After decades and hundreds of billions of dollars spent by Big Pharma to block Medicare from directly negotiating lower prescription drug prices for people with Medicare, President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act finally got it done. In total in 2022, Medicare Part D beneficiaries paid $3.4 billion in out of pocket costs for the 10 drugs selected for negotiation, and some paid over $6,000 per year for just one of the drugs on the list. Negotiated prices will go into effect for seniors in 2026.
Today’s announcements build off the actions the Administration has already taken to lower prescription drug costs for millions of seniors and families because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. In 2023 alone:

  • The Inflation Reduction Act saved nearly 15 million Americans an average of $800 in 2023 because of health insurance savings the law locked in.
    • The Inflation Reduction Act capped the cost of insulin at $35 per covered insulin product for Medicare beneficiaries, saving an estimated 1.5 million seniors on Medicare $500 on average in 2023 on insulin costs. 
       
    • The Inflation Reduction Act made recommended vaccines – like the shingles vaccine – free for the 50.5 million seniors with Medicare Part D, and made recommended, approved adult vaccines free for all adults in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and nearly all full-benefit adults enrolled in traditional Medicaid. Seniors on Medicare who received a Part D vaccine saved an average of $70 on vaccines in 2023.
       
    • The Inflation Reduction Act saved many seniors on Medicare as much as $618 per average dose on 47 prescription drugs in 2023 because of the law’s provision requiring drug companies to pay rebates on certain drugs if they raise prices for those drugs faster than the rate of inflation. Starting in 2024, some seniors who take 48 prescription drugs could see savings of as much as $2,786 per average dose because those 48 drugs raised their prices faster than inflation in the last quarter of 2023.

In the coming months and years, the Inflation Reduction Act will continue to deliver cost-savings to millions of Americans, including:

  • In 2024, Part D enrollees will no longer pay 5% co-insurance when they reach the catastrophic phase of their benefit – meaning that some beneficiaries’ prescription drug costs will be capped at about $3,500 next year.
    • When the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on prescription drugs applies in 2025, nearly 19 million seniors and other beneficiaries are projected to save $400 per year on prescription drugs. 1.9 million enrollees with the highest drug costs will save an average of $2,500 per year because of this provision of the Inflation Reduction Act.
       

Millions of seniors could save money when negotiated prices of the first group of drugs selected for the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Price Negotiation program are scheduled to go into effect in 2026. In 2022, seniors spent $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs on the first ten drugs selected for negotiation – used to treat common conditions like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, blood clots and more. A report released last week shows that had the Medicare price negotiation program been in effect in 2021, Part D out of pocket costs would have declined 23% for people taking the ten costliest drugs at the time.

The Congressional Republican Agenda on Prescription Drugs: Giveaways to Big Pharma and Higher Costs for Seniors and Families


While President Biden has taken historic action to reduce prescription drug costs for seniors and for working-age people who get health insurance through their jobs, Congressional Republicans are actively fighting to roll back the reforms the President signed into law and to keep Big Pharma’s taxes low.
 
Congressional Republicans’ agenda for Big Pharma giveaways includes:
 
Repealing prescription drug inflation rebates. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) cuts costs for Medicare and seniors by requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay a rebate to Medicare if they increase prices faster than inflation. Dozens of Republicans have signed onto legislation that would revoke the rebate requirement.
 
By 2031, repealing this provision would:

  • Cost seniors $5 billion per year.
  • Increase federal deficits by $7 billion per year.
  • Give away over $10 billion per year to pharmaceutical companies.

Taking away Medicare’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices. The IRA finally gave Medicare the authority to directly negotiate with drug companies on the high prices they charge for prescription drugs. Republican Chairs and Ranking Members of the committees with jurisdiction over Medicare have publicly committed to repealing this authority, which would allow Big Pharma to go back to charging seniors exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs.
 
By 2031, repealing this provision would:

  • Cost seniors $7 billion per year.
  • Increase federal deficits by $14 billion per year.
  • Give away over $20 billion to pharmaceutical companies per year.

Opposing caps on insulin prices. Monthly insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries are now capped at $35—providing certainty and critical cost savings for seniors who in some cases were paying as much as $400 for a month’s supply of insulin. The Republican Study Committee budget, as well as the House Budget Committee-passed budget plan, propose to repeal this and other IRA drug price reforms.  
 
Repealing this provision would mean the 1.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who use insulin could see their annual costs rise by an average of $500.
 
Protecting Big Pharma’s ability to avoid paying taxes. President Biden negotiated a historic agreement with over 130 countries that would enable the U.S. and its partners to ensure Big Pharma and other multinationals pay at least a minimum tax rate and has proposed that the U.S. implement that agreement with a 21% minimum tax rate on multinationals. Congressional Republicans are not only blocking the U.S. from implementing the global minimum tax agreement and vowing to never raise taxes on Big Pharma and other multinationals by implementing it, they also traveled to Europe this summer to try to persuade other countries to withdraw from the global agreement and keep taxes low for Big Pharma and other multinationals.
 
Blocking implementation of the President’s international tax reform proposals means:

  • Protecting a system in which Big Pharma can lower its taxes to under 12% by shifting profits offshore.

The U.S. would lose out on hundreds of billions in savings from adopting the President’s proposals to implement the international agreement. Based on a PhRMA-funded analysis, nearly $100 billion of the savings – or almost one-fifth of the total revenue – from implementing the President’s 21% minimum tax proposal would come from cracking down on pharmaceutical industry tax avoidance

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Updates Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration

At the Climate March, New York City, activists demand climate justice. The Biden Administration updated its report on how climate change the trigger to migration to the southern border and around the world. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Two years ago, the Biden-Harris Administration released the Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration. This update in the report comes at a key time when Republicans in the House and Senate are holding up government funding for border security, foreign aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, and threatening to shut down the government over inhumane, likely illegal demands to close down migration, when the Biden Administration has attempted to focus on one of the major causes for migration: climate change. This fact sheet was provided by the White House: – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
The Administration provided an update on actions taken under President Biden’s Executive Order 14013 Rebuilding and Enhancing Programs to Resettle Refugees and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration and efforts to address the effects of climate change on displacement and migration.
 
Research estimates more than 216 million people could migrate within their countries as a result of climate change by 2050. Migration can be a necessary mechanism for survival for communities and families facing severe risk to personal safety, property damage, or loss of livelihood and is often the only option to meaningfully reduce that risk.  Particular attention must be paid to the needs of communities that receive migrants displaced as a result of climate events, including access to housing, work, and education.
 
Under President Biden’s leadership, the United States Federal government is working to implement a number of initiatives to improve the ability of vulnerable communities both at home and abroad to adapt to and manage the increasing impacts of the global climate crisis that contribute to displacement: 

  • The President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), launched by President Biden in November 2021 with a commitment to work with Congress to fund international climate adaptation at $3 billion annually by 2024, has an Action Plan that builds off and bolsters existing international efforts to advance climate resilience, including ways to address key drivers of migration by enabling communities to support themselves where they are, respond to displacement, support those who choose to move as a risk management strategy, and assist trapped populations.
     
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development’s April 2022 Climate Strategy highlights the importance of limiting displacement and supporting safer and more productive migration. This includes the need to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to climate-related migration and scale support to migrants and their communities.
     
  • Lack of access to and availability of water accounted for ten percent of the increase in global migration between 1970 and 2000. The June 2022 White House Action Plan on Global Water Security lays out a whole-of-government approach to improve global resilience, elevate data-driven methods, use resources more efficiently, and work collaboratively across communities and sectors to address global water security, which can be a key driver of displacement and migration due to impacts on health, food security, and livelihoods.
     
  • The Department of State released a new approach in June 2023 to address the impacts of the climate crisis on migration and displacement, including four objectives: 1) strengthen and expand the protection of refugees and migrants in situations of vulnerability affected by climate change; 2) enhance existing climate action by partnering with key humanitarian partners, through regular dialogue with international, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, and through engagement with members of affected populations; 3) expand U.S. multilateral diplomacy and leadership to address the impacts of climate change on migration and displacement in international fora; and 4) strengthen coordination between agencies to advance policy solutions for refugees and migrants affected by climate change.

Additionally, the White House report called for U.S. leadership to elevate the impact of climate change on migration and displacement in multilateral spaces and educate leaders on the urgency of climate risk to populations. The Department of State has advanced dialogue on the issue in various fora over the last two years, including hosting events during the International Dialogue on Migration, Inter-Governmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum, and Refugees, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, UN General Assembly High-Level Week, the Cities Summit of the Americas, the Regional Conference on Migration, and the Africa Climate Summit.

These efforts have generated engagement and momentum among key stakeholders – government, international organizations, impacted communities, multilateral development banks and international finance institutions, civil society, think tanks, the private sector, and others – around action at the intersection of climate change and human mobility. The State Department and USAID will continue working with these stakeholders to inform, develop, and coordinate actions in the years to come.

To address migration and displacement due to climate change, the United States has developed a three-pronged approach of 1) improving access to information by U.S. federal agencies, partner countries, and local communities, 2) increasing investment in adaptation and resilience programs, and 3) facilitating protection of individuals at home and abroad.
 
Increasing access to information by U.S. federal agencies, partner countries, and local communities on climate change
 
Information about climate change impacts, early warning systems, and adaptation options saves lives and empowers governments and communities to take timely and appropriate actions to increase climate resilience and address climate-related mobility. The U.S. Government advances observations, models, and forecasts that enable monitoring and early warnings for floods, droughts, cyclones, and extreme temperatures, as well as food insecurity, conflict, and humanitarian needs, including through the following programs:

  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) established the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1985 in response to devastating famines in East and West Africa to fulfill a critical need for better and earlier warning of potential food security crises.  Over the past two years, FEWS NET has increased its investments and partnerships in the climate security domain to better understand interactions between the changing climate, food and water security, fragility, and conflict. Improved understanding and forecasting of these dynamics provide increased insight into migration drivers and patterns, creating opportunities to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the needs of migrating people.
     
  • The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the U.S. Civil Applications Committee lead the Thermal Working Group (TWG), a coordinating body for advancing and enabling delivery of data, information, and products to civil first responders. Since 2021, the TWG has supported wildland fire detection. Increasing average temperatures and related climate change are correlated with observed increases in the occurrence and area burned by fires and the duration of wildfire seasons, increasing the risks associated with disaster-induced displacement. Through continued efforts to improve system processes, the TWG National Guard FireGuard teams have detected and delivered information on more fires (over 2,800 fires total), more quickly, and with greater confidence, enabling earlier and faster local emergency response.
     
  • The USGS provides science to better understand drivers of migration, such as sea-level rise in the Pacific Islands.  USGS personnel facilitate the delivery of geospatial data during disaster events, such as the 2022 volcanic eruption in Tonga and 2023 flooding in South Africa, in support of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, a United Nations-brokered agreement to provide disaster-related geospatial data and imagery to first responders. Through the USGS-chaired, interagency Civil Applications Committee and National Civil Applications Center, commercial imagery and sensor data are provided to first responders to proactively prepare and respond to these disasters, mitigating the impacts on critical infrastructure and livelihoods. 
     
  • The U.S. Global Change Research Program is co-leading an initiative launched in 2021 on Enhancing Capacity for Climate Risk Assessment and Catalyzing Partnerships to Inform Decisions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LACI). The goal of the LACI partnership is to help countries in the region develop capacity to produce national climate assessments that support decision-making and help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change. In June 2023, LACI pilot programs were announced for El Salvador, Amazonia, and Jamaica. This effort directly responds to Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, as well as PREPARE.
     
  • USAID provides life- and livelihood-saving early warning systems and climate information services that help communities, pastoralists, farmers, and local governments better prepare for and adapt to frequent and extreme climate events. USAID partners with leading science organizations to ensure partner governments, civil society, and other stakeholders have context-specific, accurate, and actionable climate information.  USAID also invests in capacity building and provides resources for governments and communities to respond and adapt to climate risks. For example, the flagship USAID-NASA partnership, SERVIR, harnesses the power of satellite data to strengthen climate resilience, food and water security, forest and carbon management, and air quality.  SERVIR has co-developed over 65 services used around the world to increase early warning lead times for floods, droughts, and high-impact weather events.
     
  • In 2022, USAID made an initial investment of $67 million in partnership with NOAA, the World Meteorological Organization, and the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction to advance early warning capacity of national authorities.  Through these investments, Flash Flood Guidance System coverage expanded from 74 countries to an additional 20 countries.  In addition, USAID will expand the early warning of river and urban flooding droughts, and heatwaves as needed, focusing on small Island Developing States, Africa, and Least Developed Countries.  Increasing local capacity for early warning supports governments and communities to better prepare for, plan for, and reduce impact of disaster displacement.
     
  • As announced at the Cities Summit of the Americas in April 2023, more than $1 million in support for USAID’s Roadmaps for Urban Adaptation in Latin America and the Caribbean will provide key information to support urban adaptation and climate resilience, with a focus on those most vulnerable to climate impacts, including migrants and displaced people.
     
  • USAID’s Climate Change, Food Security, and Migration research in Honduras advances understanding of how climate change relates to migration in the country.  The research has for instance, revealed a statistically significant relationship between food insecurity and migration; showed that municipal drought has a long-term and cumulative impact on the U.S. border apprehension rate; and demonstrated that coffee prices, which are increasingly affected by climate change, drive migration most where coffee is more important to the local economy.  USAID uses this research to help farmers in areas of high migration like Honduras cope with climate impacts. Supporting water-conservating agricultural methods reduces production risks related to drought and enables farming households across Central America to improve soil moisture and fertility, increasing yields by as much as 50 percent.
     
  • With almost $3 million in funding starting in October 2021, USAID has been supporting the Academic Alliance for Anticipatory Action, an innovative partnership between a U.S. university and six universities in Africa and Asia to build the evidence base on why acting ahead of hazards and risks saves lives. Research topics range from assessing the impact of social protection systems on different demographic groups in response to effects of drought in Namibia, to studying the lead time required for different nutrition and health interventions in Eastern Uganda, to examining the use of a flood forecasting system which indicates possible flooding in the Philippines.

Increasing investment in adaptation and resilience programs

Climate variability and change are increasingly contributing to human migration and displacement. Weather-related disasters currently displace around 30 million people annually, even under current warming projections, additional people will be displaced or unable to escape climate impacts. Adaptation and resilience actions can help respond to the key drivers of migration, support those who choose to move as a risk-management strategy, and assist populations trapped by climate impacts. U.S. Government adaptation and resilience initiatives support and scale actions to build the climate resilience of people, places, ecosystems, and livelihoods, including through the following programs:

  • A $135 million investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act charged the Department of Interior (DOI), the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and the Denali Commission to support 11 severely impacted Tribes to advance relocation, managed retreat, and adaptation planning. To date, efforts have focused on outreach to the 11 Tribes, providing technical assistance to build Tribal capacity to adapt, and establishing PL-638 Tribal accounts for initial fund distribution to facilitate the hiring of Tribal relocation coordinators. 
     
  • A $40 million investment from the Department of Agriculture funded community-driven relocation projects in 15 Alaskan Tribal communities, with $7 million for seven Emergency Watershed Protection projects in Alaska to relocate homes threatened by erosion, stabilize eroding riverbanks, and restore channel capacity to mitigate flooding.
     
  • USAID’s Climate Strategy sets the ambitious goal of improving the climate resilience of 500 million people by 2030. USAID partners with more than 45 countries to strengthen the resilience of people and communities to address climate impacts across multiple sectors, including issues that are linked to migration and displacement. USAID supports programming to address climate-related migration including:
    • In FY21, USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) supported Planning for Productive Migration in Niger with a $200,000 pilot evaluation that provided comprehensive job search support and facilitated safe, productive, regional migration as a livelihood strategy for people facing climate change and other challenges within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
    • In FY22, USAID Burkina Faso’s YouthConnect activity, which improves the resilience and economic empowerment of vulnerable youth, expanded by $4 million to support an influx of persons displaced by climate and conflict;
    • In FY22, the $15 million USAID Asia Resilient Cities activity addressed cross-cutting urban development challenges in secondary cities in Asia, with a focus on migrants and informal settlement dwellers, by promoting sustainable urban growth; supporting resilient, low-carbon urban infrastructure; and integrating climate change and environmentally conscious urban development approaches;
    • In 2023, USAID partnered with the University of Arizona and universities in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific to develop locally led solutions to climate-related disasters by supporting youth and young professionals through an initial grant of $6 million. The program addresses local climate-related challenges in partnership with communities, local governments, NGOs, and the private sector to enable climate adaptation; and
    • USAID contributed approximately $1 million in FY22 to the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) for solar water pumping schemes in emergency settings. The USAID-funded Solar Hub provides technical support and training to ensure solar water pumping schemes reach vulnerable populations experiencing climate-related shocks and stressors. Solar water pumps played a critical role during the 2022-2023 Horn of Africa drought, where reduced displacement related to water scarcity by providing safe and cost-effective water access.
       
  • The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration contributed $5 million in FY22 to the UN Migration Multi-Partner Trust fund.  This funding supports labor mobility and climate resilience in the Pacific, facilitates safe and regular migration in the Eastern Africa; enhances climate resilience for migrant and vulnerable households in coastal India; and strengthens capacities in the Brazilian Amazon to face the challenges of migration, climate change, and health.  This funding addressed needs and gaps in: 1) data and knowledge, 2) national and regional policy frameworks, 3) disaster displacement preparedness, and 4) regular migration pathways.

Protecting people at home and abroad from climate change

Climate change has disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups, including marginalized communities and people already displaced. Climate-induced displacement creates additional vulnerabilities, which the United States aims to mitigate through programs to address the needs of those displaced by climate change, inclusion of displaced persons in climate action plans and programs, and support community-driven relocation plans, such as the following:

  • Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s contributions to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization of Migration (IOM), and other humanitarian agencies support climate adaptation and mitigation for refugees, internally displaced persons, conflict victims, migrants, stateless persons, and their host communities in climate-vulnerable countries.  For example, with Department of State support:
    • UNHCR helps Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh mitigate the effects of monsoon storms, flooding, and landslides;
    • IOM conducted capacity-building efforts in Central America to assist national and local authorities in better understanding the impact of climate change on migration flows, and their implications in terms of human rights, protection, and development;
    • IOM supports government authorities in Angola, Djibouti, Libya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and other countries in including migrants in their disaster preparedness and response plans;
    • IOM prevents and mitigates human trafficking in Kenya brought on by vulnerabilities and displacement exacerbated by climate change. IOM is raising awareness of risks and employing a variety of livelihood support models to build economic resilience in communities facing economic insecurity due to climate change; and
    • At the August 2023 Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced the Department of State’s contribution of $4 million to the IOM to enhance data collection on climate change and human mobility, and to support migrants, refugees, and host communities impacted by climate events in Kenya.
       
  • USAID delivers assistance to the most vulnerable communities and addresses migration and displacement linked to climate change impacts. This assistance comes prior to, during, and after a humanitarian crisis. USAID responds on average to 75 crises in nearly 70 countries each year. USAID also works to address the long-term needs of displaced persons, including those impacted by climate change. For example, in FY22, USAID/Somalia invested $11 million in Building Durable Solutions to Displacement to support the resilience of long-term internally displaced people (IDPs) affected by climate- and conflict-related disasters. By facilitating access to land titles, formal rental agreements, and improved livelihood prospects, USAID is forging avenues for these families to integrate productively and safely into urban economies, transforming their displacement into opportunities for development.    
     
  • In August 2023, the Department of State supported a technical conference that resulted in the continent-wide expansion of the Kampala Declaration on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change, in partnership with IOM and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Regional Collaboration Center for East and Southern Africa.  The Declaration is a potential example for other regional blocs to collaborate on the challenges posed by the intersection of climate change and migration.
     
  • The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is supporting programs to conduct research on and address human trafficking in climate-induced migration, including:
    • IOM, with Columbia University, is conducting research on human trafficking in cross-border migration linked to climate change and its impact on livelihoods and food security in places including Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and South Africa;    
    • In Bangladesh, a program aims to integrate anti-trafficking policies into existing government plans to address climate change, while building the capacity of vulnerable communities. The program is also conducting research to better understand the link between climate change and human trafficking.
    • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has incorporated research on the climate change-human trafficking nexus within the brick-kiln industry in Pakistan as a result of the 2022 “super flooding,” which displaced hundreds of thousands of the country’s most vulnerable workers.  The findings were used to refine the interventions on human trafficking in the brick-kiln industry.
       
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in furtherance of Section 6 of Executive Order 14013, updated its combined asylum officer and refugee officer training materials in July 2023 to provide guidance on the intersection of climate change and asylum and refugee claims under existing law.  USCIS basic training for all new asylum officers and refugee officers includes specific training and activities related to the intersection of climate change and protection claims.
     
  • DHS, through USCIS, issued new, first-of-its-kind guidance in August 2023 to assist stateless noncitizens in the United States who wish to obtain immigration benefits or have submitted other requests to USCIS. Stateless individuals are those who are not legally considered a citizen of any country, and therefore may be denied legal identity, and struggle to access education, healthcare, marriage, and job opportunities. Individuals can be born stateless or become stateless because of discrimination, war and conflict, or changing borders and laws, including due to the potential impacts of climate change. 
     
  • DHS has also used its authority to designate certain countries for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), issuing 12 new designations and redesignations under the Biden-Harris Administration. There are 16 TPS designations in place currently. TPS can be issued to protected noncitizens in the United States when their home countries are facing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.
     
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a Climate Resilience Implementation Guide for Community Driven Relocation in March 2023, which provides a step-by-step guide for communities seeking to implement a community-driven relocation program.

See also:

FACT SHEET: BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION LEVERAGES HISTORIC US CLIMATE LEADERSHIP AT HOME AND ABROAD TO URGE COUNTRIES TO ACCELERATE GLOBAL CLIMATE ACTION AT COP28

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Lower Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs by Promoting Competition

While the dictator wannabe Donald Trump promises to tear up the Constitution, weaponize the judiciary, persecute political opponents, imprison the media and repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – and monopolizing headlines doing it as he propagandizes over his 91 indictments – President Biden is working feverishly and accomplishing landmark programs  to improve lives of Americans. Here is a fact sheet on the Biden-Harris Administration’s new actions to lower healthcare and prescription drug costs by promoting competition. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Among the actions the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to lower healthcare and drug costs, are new regulations improving transparency of hospital charges © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden believes that health care should be a right, not a privilege. For too long, corporate special interests and trickle-down economics have allowed Big Pharma to make record profits, while millions of Americans struggle to afford health care and prescription drugs to treat common and chronic conditions. As part of the President’s Bidenomics agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is cracking down on price gouging and taking on special interests to lower costs for consumers and ensure every American has access to high-quality, affordable health care.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to promote competition in health care and support lowering prescription drug costs for American families, including the release of a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights on taxpayer-funded drugs and other inventions, which specifies that price can be a factor in considering whether a drug is accessible to the public. The Administration believes taxpayer-funded medications should be reasonably available and affordable. These actions build on the steps the Administration has already taken to lower health care costs, including capping the cost of insulin at $35 per product per month for seniors, finally allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, requiring drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raise prices faster than inflation, and locking in $800 per year in health insurance savings for 15 million Americans under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Currently the 25 largest pharmaceutical companies control around 70% of industry revenues. Other parts of the health care industry also face limited competition. Over 75% of Americans live in highly concentrated hospital markets, and just three or fewer issuers of individual health insurance control 80% of the market in 44 states.  In addition, five insurers control over 70% of the Medicare Advantage market.  This consolidation contributes to higher costs for taxpayers, lower wages for health care workers, and worse quality of care for patients.
 
New research released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that a lack of competition in drug markets is highly correlated with higher prices. Among the highest priced drugs (i.e., those in the top 10% of price per prescription), 89% of small molecule drugs and 100% of biological products had only one manufacturer. Meanwhile, nearly three in ten individuals struggle to pay for the drugs they need.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new action to support lowering prescription drug costs and increase Americans’ access to life-saving medications:

  • Promoting equitable access to lower-priced taxpayer-funded drugs. Taxpayers have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on research catalyzing the discovery and development of new prescription drugs. The Biden-Harris Administration believes taxpayer-funded drugs and other taxpayer-funded inventions should be available and affordable to the public. When an invention is made using taxpayer funds, under certain circumstances march-in authority under the Bayh-Dole Act enables the federal government to license the invention to another party. The prior Administration proposed a rule preventing the government from exercising this authority on the basis of high price alone. The Biden-Harris Administration decided not to finalize that proposal earlier this year, consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Today, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and HHS released a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights that specifies for the first time that price can be a factor in determining that a drug or other taxpayer-funded invention is not accessible to the public. DOC and HHS invite public input on how this framework can promote access to taxpayer-funded inventions, including treatments for patients, while promoting innovation.

Scrutinizing Anticompetitive Acquisitions and Anticompetitive Practices

Consolidation in health care markets has accelerated in recent decades, too often leading to higher costs, worse quality, and less access to care—particularly in rural areas. For example, a review of hospital merger studies finds that mergers in concentrated markets led to price increases often exceeding 20%. Consolidation has also led to a rapid decline in independent physician practices, with research finding that patients of hospital-owned practices pay nearly $300 more for similar care than at independent physician practices. At the same time, private-equity ownership in the health care industry has ballooned, with approximately $750 billion in deals between 2010 and 2020—in sectors including, but not limited to, physician practices, nursing homeshospiceshome careautism treatment, and travel nursing. Too often, aggressive profiteering by private equity-owned practices can lead  to higher patient costs and lower quality care.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new efforts to stop anticompetitive mergers and anticompetitive practices by dominant corporations in health care markets:

  • Launching a cross-government public inquiry into corporate greed in health care. The Biden-Harris Administration believes that the health care system should serve patients, not corporate profiteers. The Administration is concerned that our health care system is increasingly being financialized, with corporate owners like private-equity firms and others maximizing their profits at the expense of patients’ health and safety, while increasing costs for patients and taxpayers alike. The Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and HHS will issue a joint Request for Information to seek input about how private equity and other corporations’ increasing power and control of our health care is affecting Americans. The agencies will use this joint Request for Information to identify areas for future regulation and enforcement prioritization, and they will continue to work together on case referrals, reciprocal training programs, data-sharing, and further development of additional health care competition policy initiatives. As part of this effort, HHS will appoint a Chief Competition Officer and DOJ’s Antitrust Division and FTC will name Counsels for Health Care to lead these efforts.
    • Identifying anticompetitive “roll ups” that currently evade antitrust review. Businesses, including private equity firms, health insurers, and health systems sometimes use a “roll up” strategy, in which a series of relatively small acquisitions can lead to the consolidation of a market and contribute to worse patient outcomes while increasing taxpayer costs. These serial acquisitions may violate the antitrust laws. However, each individual acquisition may fall below the size thresholds for reporting the prospective deal to the antitrust enforcement agencies before consummating the acquisition—making it more challenging for the enforcement agencies to identify anticompetitive transactions at the outset. Today, HHS, DOJ, and FTC announced that they will, to the maximum extent possible, engage in data sharing to help the antitrust enforcers identify potentially anticompetitive transactions that might otherwise evade ready review by antitrust enforcers.  
       
    • Increasing ownership transparency. HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), has taken unprecedented action to shed light on ownership trends in health care. The Biden-Harris Administration is the first to make ownership data on hospitals, nursing homes, hospice providers, and home health agencies publicly available, and today, CMS is releasing, for the first time, ownership data on Federal Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics on data.cms.gov. Making ownership information transparent allows for identification of common owners with histories of poor performance, analysis of trends on how market consolidation impacts consumers, and evaluation of the relationships between ownership and changes in health care costs and outcomes.
       
    • Increasing Medicare Advantage transparency. Currently, about 50% of Medicare enrollment is in Medicare Advantage and the government is expected to spend over $7 trillion on Medicare Advantage over the next decade. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring Medicare Advantage insurance plans best meet the needs of people with Medicare, there is timely access to care, and the market has healthy competition. To support this work, CMS must have comprehensive and high-quality Medicare Advantage programmatic data, including understanding the effects of market shifts on consumers and care outcomes. CMS has taken steps to improve Medicare Advantage data transparency and today, it is announcing a new phase of this work, which will start with soliciting information from the public early next year to strengthen CMS’ data capabilities and Medicare Advantage transparency efforts.

Building on Past Actions to Increase Health Care Competition and Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Today’s announcements build on steps the Administration has already taken to lower health care costs, increase competition, and improve the quality and availability of care across the health care industry. These include:

  • Negotiating and lowering drug prices. Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Administration has announced 10 prescription drugs for which Medicare will negotiate prices directly with participating manufacturers. These drugs cost people with Medicare $3.4 billion out of pocket in 2022. This builds on other progress to lower prescription drug costs. Individuals with Medicare can now receive certain vaccines for free under the President’s lower cost prescription drug law, which previously would have cost an average of $70 in out-of-pocket costs. The Inflation Reduction Act also capped the cost of insulin at $35 per product per month for almost four million seniors and others on Medicare with diabetes, which can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings for a month’s supply.
    • Stopping Big Pharma tactics that raise prices for working families. In September, the FTC issued an enforcement policy statement explaining that Big Pharma companies may face legal action if they delay entry of generic competitors with improper patent listings in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) publication “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” commonly known as the “Orange Book.” When a brand pharmaceutical company improperly lists a patent in the Orange Book, it may lead to a 30-month statutory stay that blocks the approval of competing drug products, including lower-cost generic alternatives. Such improper listings may delay competition and raise prices for life-saving products like asthma inhalers. FTC and FDA are working to address such improper listings, with FTC announcing last month that it is using FDA’s regulatory Orange Book patent listing dispute process to challenge more than 100 patents listed for brand-name asthma inhalers, epinephrine autoinjectors, and other drug products.
       
    • Cracking down on anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices in Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage—which serves over 30 million American seniors and people with disabilities—is increasingly dominated by just a few large national plans. Last month, HHS announced new steps to stop predatory marketing and steering of patients to Medicare Advantage plans that may not best meet their needs. HHS, through CMS, proposed a rule that would, if finalized as proposed, stop large insurance plans from offering brokers and agents lavish compensation—such as cash bonuses, volume bonuses, and perks—and working with marketing middlemen who are more likely to contract with larger insurers, leading to steerage of patients to plans based on compensation to the broker or agent, rather than based on the patients’ best interests. The agency also proposed new steps to ensure seniors and people with disabilities can actually access supplemental benefits like hearing and dental coverage that these large plans market and help drive up Medicare costs—so that they aren’t merely marketing ploys. In addition, CMS will continue to implement updates to Medicare Advantage payment that improve payment accuracy, address gaming, and recover overpayments. Addressing overpayment in Medicare Advantage will help to make the market more competitive between Medicare Advantage plans and create a more level playing field between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare.
       
    • Making hearing aids available over the counter. To lower the price of hearing aids and expand access, President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy called on the FDA to act promptly to make hearing aids available over the counter, without a prescription. That is now a reality. Under a final rule issued by the FDA, hearing aids are now on store shelves across the country—for thousands of dollars less than before. The rule is also spurring competition among providers, leading to new features and models. 
       
    • Cracking down on nursing homes that endanger resident safety. In recent years, there has been a disturbing trend towards private equity firms and other large corporate owners purchasing nursing homes and slashing levels of staff to maximize profits. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken numerous steps to crack down on nursing homes that put the well-being of their residents at risk, including proposing a rule that, if finalized as proposed, would establish a federal floor for safe staffing levels. In addition, last month CMS finalized a rule that will provide the public with more information about who owns a nursing home—including whether facilities are owned by a private equity company or a real estate investment trust—so that families can make more informed decisions about where to seek nursing home care for their loved ones.
       
    • Reforming the organ transplant system. President Biden recently signed a bipartisan law, the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act, to break up the monopoly that has controlled the organ transplant system for its entire nearly four decade history. HHS will harness competition with the intent to make multiple awards to different entities to benefit from best-in-class vendors and provide a more efficient system that strengthens oversight and improves patient safety.
       
    • Addressing anticompetitive misuse of the patent system. The FDA and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are working together on a robust set of initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting U.S. innovation while advancing marketplace competition that can lower drug prices and expand access.
       
    • Banning non-compete agreements that trap health care workers and others. The FTC proposed a rule to ban employers from using non-compete clauses. The estimated 18% of workers covered by non-compete clauses include many across the health care industry such as doctors and nurses, who will have more employment opportunities if the rule is finalized.
       
    • Promoting competition in eyeglasses. Bundling eye exams with the purchase of eyeglasses reduces competition in the market for eyeglasses—raising prices and reducing options for consumers. The FTC proposed an update to its Eyeglass Rule to make sure that eye doctors give patients their prescriptions immediately after their eye exam—facilitating consumers’ ability to choose where to get their eyeglass prescriptions filled.
       
    • Developing new payment models for doctors including supporting independent doctors. Succeeding in value-based care can be challenging for small, independent physician practices. Beginning July 1, 2024, the CMS Innovation Center’s Making Care Primary Model will provide a pathway for primary care clinicians to gradually adopt prospective, population-based payments that support the delivery of advanced primary care. 
       

Improving transparency of hospital chargesCMS hospital price transparency regulations lay the foundation for a patient-driven health care system by making hospitals’ standard charges’ data available to the public.  Last month, CMS strengthened these regulations to require hospitals to make charges available in a more standardized manner to streamline enforcement capabilities. This will help the public learn how much an insurance company pays for a particular hospital service, for third parties to develop consumer-friendly materials, for hospitals to comply, and for CMS to enforce the regulations.

FACT SHEET: Biden Takes New Actions to Strengthen America’s Supply Chains, Lower Costs for Families, and Secure Key Sectors

During the inaugural convening of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, President Biden will unveil more than 30 new actions to strengthen America’s supply chains

As part of his Bidenomics agenda to lower costs for American families, President Biden announced nearly 30 new actions to strengthen supply chains critical to America’s economic and national security. These actions will help Americans get the products they need when they need them, enable reliable deliveries for businesses, strengthen our agriculture and food systems, and support good-paying, union jobs here at home. Among the actions: the USDA is investing $196 million to strengthen our domestic food supply chains and create more opportunity for farmers and entrepreneurs in 37 states and in Puerto Rico. These investments—which build on prior investments in diversified food processing, resilient agricultural markets, and fertilizer production—expand farmer income opportunities, create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas, and lower food costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

You don’t hear anything about it because 1) it’s lots of facts and figures and 2) the nonstop criminality, latest court craziness of Trump and his scheme to become a dictator are dominating news. But the collapse of supply chains during the COVID pandemic was the biggest reason for triggering inflation, and the Biden administration focus to develop Made in America manufacturing and reduce dependency on foreign production is one of the biggest factors in reducing costs for Americans (despite greed-based price hikes). Here’s a Fact sheet from the White House:

As part of his Bidenomics agenda to lower costs for American families, President Biden is announcing nearly 30 new actions to strengthen supply chains critical to America’s economic and national security. These actions will help Americans get the products they need when they need them, enable reliable deliveries for businesses, strengthen our agriculture and food systems, and support good-paying, union jobs here at home.

President Biden announced these actions alongside members of his Cabinet and other senior Administration officials at the inaugural meeting of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience. The Council, which President Biden established, will support the enduring resilience of America’s critical supply chains.

Robust supply chains are fundamental to a strong economy. When supply chains smooth, prices fall for goods, food, and equipment, putting more money in the pockets of American families, workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs. That is why President Biden made supply chain resilience a priority from Day One of his Administration—including by signing an Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains and establishing a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that worked with states, Tribes, local governments, businesses, family farms, labor, and allies and partners to address the acute supply chain crises caused by the pandemic. Since then, the Administration has made historic investments to strengthen supply chains and prevent future disruptions by expanding production capacity in key sectors and building infrastructure through the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

These efforts helped unsnarl supply chains, re-normalize the flow of goods, and lower inflation. From October 2021 to October 2023, supply chain pressures as measured by the New York Fed declined from near-record highs to a record low, helping lower inflation, which has fallen by 65% from its peak.

Today, President Biden is building on this progress by announcing bold new actions to further strengthen supply chains, lower costs for families, and help Americans get the goods they need, including:

  • The creation of the Council on Supply Chain Resilience. Today, President Biden will convene the inaugural meeting of the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, which will advance his long-term, government-wide strategy to build enduring supply chain resilience. The Council will be co-chaired by the National Security Advisor and National Economic Advisor, and include the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration; the Directors of National Intelligence, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; the U.S. Trade Representative; and other senior officials from the Executive Office of the President and other agencies.
     
  • Use of the Defense Production Act to make more essential medicines in America and mitigate drug shortages. President Biden will issue a Presidential Determination to broaden the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) authorities under Title III of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to enable investment in domestic manufacturing of essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs that have been deemed by the President as essential to the national defense. HHS has identified $35 million for investments in domestic production of key starting materials for sterile injectable medicines. HHS will also designate a new Supply Chain Resilience and Shortage Coordinator for efforts to strengthen the resilience of medical product and critical food supply chains, and to address related shortages. HHS intends to institutionalize this coordination to advance the department’s supply chain resilience and shortage mitigation goals over the long term. The Department of Defense (DOD) will also soon release a new report on pharmaceutical supply chain resilience aimed at reducing reliance on high-risk foreign suppliers. These actions are a subset of the Administration’s broader work to increase access to essential medicines and medical products.
     
  • New cross-governmental supply chain data-sharing capabilities. The Administration has developed several cross-government partnerships to improve supply chain monitoring and strategy, including:
    • The Department of Commerce’s new, first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Center is integrating industry expertise and data analytics to develop innovative supply chain risk assessment tools, and is coordinating deep-dive analyses on select critical supply chains to drive targeted actions to increase resilience. This Center is building broad partnerships across government, industry, and academia, including collaborating with the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct deep-dive analyses on clean energy supply. Additionally, Commerce is partnering with HHS to assess industry and import data that can help address foreign dependency vulnerabilities and points of failure for critical drugs.
    • The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Freight Logistics Optimization Works (“FLOW”) program is a public-private partnership that brings together U.S. supply chain stakeholders to create a shared, common picture of supply chain networks and facilitate a more reliable flow of goods. DOT is announcing a new milestone for FLOW, in which participants are beginning to utilize FLOW data to inform their logistics decision making, helping to avoid bottlenecks, shorten lead times for customers, and enable a more resilient and globally competitive freight network through earlier warnings of supply chain disruption. As the effort continues to mature, DOT will work with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase data transparency for containerized shipments of agricultural products in the United States, efforts that can help producers and sellers avoid disruptions that can increase food prices.
    • These new analytical capabilities will enable the Council to coordinate a more complete, whole-of-government critical supply chain monitoring function.

Additional actions to support stronger supply chains and access to affordable, reliable energy and critical technology:

Investing in critical supply chains:

  • DOE today announced $275 million in grant selections for its Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program, investments that will revitalize communities affected by coal mine or coal power plant closures through investment in clean energy supply chains, including production of critical materials, components for grid-scale batteries and electric vehicles, onshore wind turbines, and energy conservation technologies. DOE also announced up to $10 million of funding for a “critical material accelerator” and a $5.6-million prize to develop circular clean energy supply chains. These efforts build on action by President Biden to authorize DOE’s use of the DPA to increase domestic production of five key clean energy technologies—including electric heat pumps—as well as DOE’s recently announced $3.5-billion investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to boost domestic production of advanced batteries and battery materials needed for essential clean energy technologies such as stationary storage and electric vehicles.
  • USDA is making investments worth $196 million to strengthen our domestic food supply chains and create more opportunity for farmers and entrepreneurs in 37 states and in Puerto Rico. These investments—which build on prior investments in diversified food processing, resilient agricultural markets, and fertilizer production—expand farmer income opportunities, create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas, and lower food costs.
  • DOD, building on the $714 million in DPA investments it has made in 2023 to support defense-critical supply chains, will publish the first ever National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS). The NDIS will guide engagement, policy development, and investment in the defense industrial base over the next three to five years. It will ensure a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to and focus on the multiple layers of suppliers and sub-suppliers that make up these critical supply chains.

Planning for long-term industrial resilience and future supply chain investments:

  • Launch of the quadrennial supply chain review. The Council will complete the first quadrennial supply chain review by December 31, 2024. As part of the review, the Council will update criteria on industries, sectors, and products defined as critical to national and economic security. In addition, 12 months after the Council promulgates the criteria, and annually thereafter, the Council will apply the criteria to review and update the list of critical sectors, as appropriate.
  • Smart manufacturing plan. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) is sponsoring a study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to develop a nationwide plan for smart manufacturing. The report will establish key priorities for investment to support new digital and artificial intelligence technologies. These investments will enhance the productivity and security of the manufacturing systems that are critical for maintaining domestic supply chains.

Deploying new capabilities to monitor existing and emerging risks:

  • New Resilience Center and tabletop exercises for supply chain disruptions. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is announcing the launch of a new Supply Chain Resilience Center (SCRC), which will be dedicated to ensuring the resilience of supply chains for critical infrastructure needed to deliver essential services to the American people. Near-term priorities will include addressing supply chain risks resulting from threats and vulnerabilities inside U.S. ports. Additionally, in 2024, in collaboration with other federal agencies and foreign governments, DHS will facilitate at least two tabletop exercises designed to test the resilience of critical cross-border supply chains. Further, DHS and the Department of Commerce will collaborate to continue to strengthen the semiconductor supply chain and further the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act.
  • Launch of DOT Multimodal Freight Office. As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (“BIL”) implementation, DOT is launching its Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy (“Multimodal Freight Office”). This office is responsible for maintaining and improving the condition and performance of the nation’s multimodal freight network including through the development of the National Multimodal Freight Network, review of State Freight Plans, and the continued advancement of the FLOW initiative in partnership with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
  • Monitoring of climate impacts. The White House National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Council of Economic Advisers will co-lead an interagency effort in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor global developments related to El Niño, including this climate phenomenon’s impact on U.S. and global commodity prices, agriculture and fishery output, disruptions to global and trade supply chains, and resulting impacts on food security, human health, and social instabilities.
  • Energy and critical mineral supply chain readiness. To more consistently track risk and opportunity across energy supply chains, DOE is developing an assessment tool that accounts for raw materials, manufacturing, workforce, and logistics considerations. Additionally, to help assess the potential for trade disruptions of select critical minerals and materials, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will map and develop geospatial databases for select global critical product supply chains, with a current focus on semiconductor components; and will seek designation by the Chief Statistician of the United States of a federal statistical unit providing the nation’s official minerals statistics. Additionally, the National Science and Technology Council’s Critical Minerals Subcommittee plans to launch a new criticalminerals.gov website in January 2024 that will highlight cross-governmental supply chain efforts.
  • Defense supply chain mapping and risk management. DOD is increasing supply chain visibility through the creation of a Supply Chain Mapping Tool to analyze supplier data for 110 weapon systems. This capability will be used to develop defense industrial base wargaming scenarios to identify vulnerabilities and develop mitigation strategies.

Engaging public and private stakeholders to expand supply chain risk modeling:

  • Supply Chain Data and Analytics Summit. The Department of Commerce will convene a diverse array of public and private stakeholders at a Supply Chain Data and Analytics Summit in 2024. A key aim of the summit will be to invite expert input into supply chain risk assessment models and tools. The summit will also assess data availability, utility, and limitations and consider actions to improve data flows.
  • AI hackathons to strengthen critical mineral supply chains. USGS, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), building on their 2022 prize challenges announcement, will host a series of hackathons beginning in February 2024 to develop novel artificial intelligence approaches to assess domestic critical mineral resources.
  • Risk mapping for labor rights abuses. The Department of Labor (DOL) updated its Comply Chain guidance for identifying and addressing labor rights violations in global supply chains. In addition, DOL is providing $8 million for two four-year projects to identify supply chain traceability methods and technologies to address child labor or forced labor risks in diverse supply chains, such as the cobalt and cotton sectors. DOL will also undertake new supply chain research on mining and agriculture products across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

In addition to the announcements above, the Administration continues to deepen engagement with allies and partners to strengthen global supply chains, including:

Deepening international early warning systems to detect and respond to supply chain disruptions in critical sectors with allies and partners, including:

  • With the European Union. In May 2023, the United States and the EU established an early warning system for semiconductor supply chain disruptions under the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council.
  • With Japan and the Republic of Korea. In August, the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea committed at Camp David to launch early warning system pilots, starting by identifying priority products and materials such as critical minerals and rechargeable batteries and establishing mechanisms to rapidly share information on disruptions to critical supply chains.
  • With Mexico and Canada. Through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the United States, Canada, and Mexico established a trilateral Sub-Committee on Emergency Response to coordinate North American efforts to maintain regional trade flows during emergency situations.
  • With Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the World Health Organization. The Global Regulatory Working Group on Drug Shortages, currently chaired by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meets quarterly to discuss product shortages participating jurisdictions are encountering and ways such shortages are being addressed. The group’s exchange of information helped address product shortages experienced by each partner during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent “tripledemic” including COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus.
  • With global partners. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), the U.S. government funds activities to improve the weather, water, and climate observing capabilities and data sharing in regions and countries that are needed to produce actionable local, regional, and global climate information and minimize impacts upon infrastructure, water, health, and food security.

Strengthening global supply chains through other innovative multilateral partnerships:

  • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Supply Chain Agreement. The United States and 13 IPEF partners concluded a first-of-its-kind Supply Chain Agreement that gives partners new tools to build diversified, competitive supply chains for critical sectors, including an IPEF Supply Chain Council to coordinate action. The Department of Commerce is kickstarting this effort through pilot projects to enhance the resilience of key supply chains, including those related to semiconductors, critical minerals, and cold chain services. In addition, the Supply Chains Agreement establishes a Crisis Response Network that will allow IPEF partners to better prepare for and respond to supply chain disruptions through emergency communication channels and joint crisis simulations, as well as a Labor Rights Advisory Board to promote worker rights across supply chains.
  • Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (Americas Partnership). The Americas Partnership is focused on, among other things, strengthening and diversifying supply chains. In its first year of work, the Americas Partnership will focus on the development of regional competitiveness plans in three critical sectors: semiconductors, clean energy, and medical supplies.
  • North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS). Through NALS, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are enhancing the resilience of North America’s supply chains for critical minerals, semiconductors, and other essential goods. This trilateral effort includes partnering with regional industry and academia to create quality jobs, promote investment, grow talent, and catalyze innovation.
  • Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI). Through PGI, the United States is mobilizing public and private financing to incentivize investments and develop transformative economic corridors to diversify global supply chains and create new opportunities for American workers and businesses. From the development of the Lobito Corridor, connecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia with global markets through Angola, to the launch of the landmark India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor—through PGI, the United States is creating novel interconnections across regions to facilitate trade and secure clean energy, digital, food security, and other critical supply chains.
  • Global Labor Directive. On November 16, President Biden signed the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labor Standards Globally. The President directed several departments to address labor rights abuses in global supply chains and identify innovative approaches to promote internationally recognized labor rights throughout the supply chain, including by collaborating with labor organizations, workers, and other labor stakeholders to consider efforts that support worker-led monitoring of labor rights compliance.
  • The Mineral Security Partnership (MSP). The Department of State, along with partners including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Union (represented by the European Commission), established the MSP to accelerate the development of diverse and sustainable critical energy minerals supply chains. The MSP works with host governments and industry to facilitate targeted financial and diplomatic support for strategic projects along the value chain with an emphasis on those projects which adhere to and promote the highest labor, environmental and sustainability standards.
  • International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund. Created by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the ITSI Fund promotes the diversification of the global semiconductor supply chain. State will partner with countries to develop the most attractive economic environments for private investment. With ITSI Fund support, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has established the Semiconductor Exchange Network allowing policymakers in the semiconductor industry to examine risks and interdependencies on the current state of the semiconductor ecosystem. Additionally, the ITSI Fund is supporting ecosystem reviews in key partner countries that will inform future collaboration on developing this critical sector.

ICYMI: ‘The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas’ – Joe Biden

President Joe Biden: “Will we relentlessly pursue our positive vision for the future, or will we allow those who do not share our values to drag the world to a more dangerous and divided place?”

This is from President Joe Biden’s opinion column published in the Washington Post, November 18, 2023Joe Biden: The U.S. won’t back down from the challenge of Putin and Hamas


Today, the world faces an inflection point, where the choices we make — including in the crises in Europe and the Middle East — will determine the direction of our future for generations to come.
 
What will our world look like on the other side of these conflicts?
 
Will we deny Hamas the ability to carry out pure, unadulterated evil? Will Israelis and Palestinians one day live side by side in peace, with two states for two peoples?
 
Will we hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his aggression, so the people of Ukraine can live free and Europe remains an anchor for global peace and security?
 
And the overarching question: Will we relentlessly pursue our positive vision for the future, or will we allow those who do not share our values to drag the world to a more dangerous and divided place?
 
Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world.
 
The United States is the essential nation. We rally allies and partners to stand up to aggressors and make progress toward a brighter, more peaceful future. The world looks to us to solve the problems of our time. That is the duty of leadership, and America will lead. For if we walk away from the challenges of today, the risk of conflict could spread, and the costs to address them will only rise. We will not let that happen.
 
That conviction is at the root of my approach to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue to defend their freedom against Putin’s brutal war.
 
We know from two world wars in the past century that when aggression in Europe goes unanswered, the crisis does not burn itself out. It draws America in directly. That’s why our commitment to Ukraine today is an investment in our own security. It prevents a broader conflict tomorrow.
 
We are keeping American troops out of this war by supporting the brave Ukrainians defending their freedom and homeland. We are providing them with weapons and economic assistance to stop Putin’s drive for conquest, before the conflict spreads farther.
 
The United States is not doing this alone. More than 50 nations have joined us to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself. Our partners are shouldering much of the economic responsibility for supporting Ukraine. We have also built a stronger and more united NATO, which enhances our security through the strength of our allies, while making clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory to deter further Russian aggression. Our allies in Asia are standing with us as well to support Ukraine and hold Putin accountable, because they understand that stability in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific are inherently connected.
 
We have also seen throughout history how conflicts in the Middle East can unleash consequences around the globe.
 
We stand firmly with the Israeli people as they defend themselves against the murderous nihilism of Hamas. On Oct. 7, Hamas slaughtered 1,200 people, including 35 American citizens, in the worst atrocity committed against the Jewish people in a single day since the Holocaust. Infants and toddlers, mothers and fathers, grandparents, people with disabilities, even Holocaust survivors were maimed and murdered. Entire families were massacred in their homes. Young people were gunned down at a music festival. Bodies riddled with bullets and burned beyond recognition. And for over a month, the families of more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas, including babies and Americans, have been living in hell, anxiously waiting to discover whether their loved ones are alive or dead. At the time of this writing, my team and I are working hour by hour, doing everything we can to get the hostages released.
 
And while Israelis are still in shock and suffering the trauma of this attack, Hamas has promised that it will relentlessly try to repeat Oct. 7. It has said very clearly that it will not stop.
 
The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own and a future free from Hamas. I, too, am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths of many thousands of civilians, including children. Palestinian children are crying for lost parents. Parents are writing their child’s name on their hand or leg so they can be identified if the worst happens. Palestinian nurses and doctors are trying desperately to save every precious life they possibly can, with little to no resources. Every innocent Palestinian life lost is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities.
 
Our goal should not be simply to stop the war for today — it should be to end the war forever, break the cycle of unceasing violence, and build something stronger in Gaza and across the Middle East so that history does not keep repeating itself.
 
Just weeks before Oct. 7, I met in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The main subject of that conversation was a set of substantial commitments that would help both Israel and the Palestinian territories better integrate into the broader Middle East. That is also the idea behind the innovative economic corridor that will connect India to Europe through the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, which I announced together with partners at the Group of 20 summit in India in early September. Stronger integration between countries creates predictable markets and draws greater investment. Better regional connection — including physical and economic infrastructure — supports higher employment and more opportunities for young people. That’s what we have been working to realize in the Middle East. It is a future that has no place for Hamas’s violence and hate, and I believe that attempting to destroy the hope for that future is one reason that Hamas instigated this crisis.
 
This much is clear: A two-state solution is the only way to ensure the long-term security of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Though right now it may seem like that future has never been further away, this crisis has made it more imperative than ever.
 
A two-state solution — two peoples living side by side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity — is where the road to peace must lead. Reaching it will take commitments from Israelis and Palestinians, as well as from the United States and our allies and partners. That work must start now.
 
To that end, the United States has proposed basic principles for how to move forward from this crisis, to give the world a foundation on which to build.

Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Takes Action to Address Alarming Rise of Reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic Events at Schools and on College Campuses

“We can’t stand by and stand silent [in the wake of Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents]. We must, without equivocation, denounce Antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.” – President Biden

Cornell University, in Ithaca NY, where a student was arrested in connection with online threats to kill and injure Cornell’s Jewish students and “shoot up” the university’s kosher dining hall © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration is taking new actions and resources to address the alarming rise of reported Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents at schools and on college campuses since the October 7th Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. These actions will help protect students, engage school and university leaders, and foster safe and supportive learning environments.
 
The Justice Department (DOJ) has published an updated hate crimes threat response guide from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to inform Americans about the steps they can take if they receive a threat. The guide, published on the FBI’s hate crimes resource page, has been shared with organizations and state and local law enforcement entities across the nation. 
 
Actions the Department of Education (ED) is taking include: 

  • The National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, a technical assistance center funded by ED, is releasing two collections of specialized resources designed to help educators, students, parents, and community members prevent Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination – one for P-12 schools and the other for institutions of higher education.
    • This week, senior ED leaders will host listening sessions with P-12 school leaders and university leaders to glean key insights from the field about how some schools are keeping students safe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict. In addition, listening sessions with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, Sikh, and other students, educators, and staff are planned for the next few weeks. ED will share notable examples of ways schools and campuses can prevent and address Antisemitism and Islamophobia. 
    • Additionally, on December 6th, ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will launch a webinar series to develop, strengthen, and share evidence-informed strategies that help schools prevent and respond to hate-based threats, bullying, and harassment. The webinar series kicks off with a session on “Creating a Welcoming Environment” on Dec. 6, followed by webinars on “Full Student Participation” on Dec. 13, “Conflict Mediation” on Jan. 17, and “Ongoing Support” in February.

 
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) USDA is partnering with the Department of Education and Muslim and Jewish groups  to host a webinar on November 16 on best practices for countering Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred on rural college campuses.
 
Additional actions by the Biden-Harris Administration to combat Antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools and on college campuses include: 

  • The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) have taken the following steps to increase campus safety:
    • DHS and DOJ have disseminated public safety information to and hosted calls with campus law enforcement as part of broader outreach to state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to address the threat environment and share information about available resources. DHS has also shared relevant resources with campus partners nationwide. As part of its continued outreach to campuses, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is leveraging its 10 Regional field offices and their vast capabilities to conduct outreach and provide resources, tools, and services to K-12 and higher educational institutions to support their security requirements. On behalf of the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice, CISA continues to oversee the SchoolSafety.gov platform, which provides schools and districts with actionable recommendations to create safe and supportive environments for students and educators. The site serves as a one-stop access point for information, resources, guidance, and evidence-based practices on a range of school safety topics and threats. On Oct. 30, the DOJ announced that is awarding over $38 million in grants to support the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, increase hate crimes reporting, expand victim services, and improve community awareness. This includes over $8 million in grants to community-based organizations and civil rights groups, including awards to organizations serving Jewish and Arab American communities. 
    • DOJ’s Community Relations Service continues to provide support on college campuses and remains in dialogue with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and other impacted communities on college campuses nationwide.
  • ED has taken a number of steps to address prohibited forms of Antisemitic and Islamophobic discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).
    • On Nov. 7, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a new Dear Colleague Letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Secretary Cardona also has cautioned that if schools violate those obligations, ED has the authority to investigate and take action to redress violations, including by withholding federal dollars. As ED noted in the letter, the Department interprets its regulations consistent with the requirements of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, all of ED’s actions enforcing Title VI must comport with First Amendment principles, and ED’s regulations should not be interpreted to require recipients to enact or enforce codes that punish the exercise of protected free speech.
       ED OCR also recently released an updated complaint form specifying that Title VI’s protection from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin extends to students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics—making it easier for students and others who experience such discrimination to seek redress for it. ED additionally made clear that anyone who believes that a school has discriminated against a student based on race, color, or national origin may file a complaint of discrimination with ED OCR, and that the person who files the complaint need not have been the target of the alleged violation.
       ED continues to offer technical assistance webinars to school communities as well as community organizations on these applications of Title VI. To request such a training, please contact ED OCR at [email protected]

ED also continues to offer information about recently resolved complaints under Title VI, including complaints alleging discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. That information is available here.

See also:

FACT SHEET: BIDEN-HARRIS ADMINISTRATION TAKES LANDMARK STEP TO COUNTER ANTISEMITISM; GOVERNORS SHOW SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL 

First Lady to Lead First-Ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research

 The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

While MAGA Republicans are doing their best to undermine women’s rights, health, ability to succeed, President Biden has announced the first-ever White House initiative on Women’s Health Research, to be led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council. The new initiative will fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research. Presently, most medical research is conducted on men, with serious consequences for health of women across the country. Here is a fact sheet from the White House explaining the new initiative:

Despite making up more than half of the population, women have been understudied and underrepresented in health research for far too long. Research on women’s health is drastically underfunded, leading to significant research gaps, with serious consequences for the health of women across the country. This lack of investment limits our understanding of conditions that are specific to women, predominantly affect women, or affect women differently. In order to give women and their health care providers the tools and information that they need to more effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat these conditions – from rheumatoid arthritis to menopause to Alzheimer’s disease to cardiovascular disease to endometriosis – our nation must fundamentally change how we approach and fund women’s health research.
 
If we act swiftly, we can pioneer the next generation of discoveries in women’s health – improving the lives of millions of women. That’s why, today, President Biden is establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. This new effort will be led by First Lady Jill Biden, who has long championed women’s health, and the White House Gender Policy Council. The Initiative will be chaired by Dr. Carolyn Mazure, an esteemed leader in the field of women’s health research, who will coordinate the Initiative on behalf of the Office of the First Lady and the Gender Policy Council.
 
“I have always believed in the power of research to save lives and to ensure that Americans get the high-quality health care they need,” President Biden stated. “To achieve scientific breakthroughs and strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and treat diseases, we have to be bold. That’s why today, we’re establishing a new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research so that my Administration—from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Defense—does everything we can to drive innovation in women’s health and close research gaps.”
 
“Every woman I know has a story about leaving her doctor’s office with more questions than answers,” commented First Lady Jill Biden. “Not because our doctors are withholding information, but because there’s just not enough research yet on how to best manage and treat even common women’s health conditions. In 2023, that is unacceptable. Our new White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will help change that by identifying bold solutions to uncover the answers that every woman and her family deserves. We also are calling on congressional leaders, the private sector, research institutions, and philanthropy to join us in taking urgent action to improve the health and lives of women throughout the nation.”
 
PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM ESTABLISHING WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH RESEARCH
 
The White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research will galvanize the Federal government as well as the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. As a first step, through today’s Presidential Memorandum, the President is directing his Administration to: 

  • Establish an Initiative consisting of executive departments and agencies across the Federal government. Initiative members include Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, and White House offices, such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  
     
  • Deliver concrete recommendations to advance women’s health research. Within 45 days, Initiative members will recommend concrete actions that the Biden-Harris Administration can take to improve how research on women’s health is conducted and maximize the Administration’s investments in women’s health research, including to address health disparities and inequities.
     
  • Take a targeted, high-impact approach. To deliver results quickly, Initiative members will set priority areas of focus where additional investments could be transformative—in areas of research ranging from heart attacks in women to menopause.
     
  • Engage the scientific, private sector, and philanthropic communities. The Initiative will explore new public-private partnerships and engage private and philanthropic leaders to drive innovation and ensure the combined power of public, private, and philanthropic sectors advances research on women’s health.

Dr. Carolyn M. Mazure serves as the Chair of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research and has recently joined the Office of the First Lady. Dr. Mazure comes to the White House from the Yale School of Medicine, where she has served as the Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor in Women’s Health Research, and Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. After three years at the National Institutes of Health and fellowship training at Yale, Dr. Mazure joined the Yale faculty as an active clinician and NIH-funded researcher. She created Women’s Health Research at Yale, the university’s interdisciplinary research center on the health of women, which studies a wide breadth of topics from cardiovascular disease to cancers. She holds a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and did her fellowship and post-doctoral work at Yale School of Medicine.

Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Steps to Protect People with Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Coverage

The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing important steps to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D). As part of his Bidenomics agenda, President Biden has worked to increase competition in the health care industry and other sectors, lower costs for families, and make sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality health care. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden-Harris Administration is proposing important steps to strengthen Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D). As part of his Bidenomics agenda, President Biden has worked to increase competition in the health care industry and other sectors, lower costs for families, and make sure every American has access to affordable, high-quality health care.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) proposed rule will help people with Medicare select and enroll in coverage options that best meet their health care needs by preventing plans from engaging in anti-competitive steering of prospective enrollees based on excessive compensation to agents and brokers, rather than the enrollee’s best interests. The proposed guardrails protect people with Medicare and promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, consistent with the goals of President Biden’s historic Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

The proposed rule will also improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type that includes several behavioral health provider types to Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. CMS is also proposing policies to increase the utilization and appropriateness of supplemental benefits to ensure taxpayer dollars actually provide meaningful benefits to enrollees. Additionally, the proposed rule would improve transparency on the effects of prior authorization on underserved communities and proposes more flexibility for Part D plans to more quickly substitute lower cost biosimilar biological products for their reference products.

“The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. By ensuring Medicare recipients have the information they need to make critical decisions about their health care coverage, we are doing just that,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Promoting competition in the marketplace helps to lower costs and protect access to care while making the whole process more transparent and accountable.”

“CMS continues to improve the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs and maintain high-quality health care coverage choices for all Medicare enrollees,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “People with Medicare deserve to have accurate and unbiased information when they make important decisions about their health coverage. Today’s proposals further our efforts to curb predatory marketing and inappropriate steering that distorts healthy competition among plans.”

CMS has previously taken unprecedented steps to address predatory marketing of Medicare Advantage plans, such as banning misleading TV ads. Many people on Medicare rely on agents and brokers to help navigate Medicare choices. CMS is concerned that some Medicare Advantage plans are compensating agents and brokers in a way that may circumvent existing payment rules, inappropriately steer individuals to enroll in plans that do not best meet their health care needs, and lead to further consolidation in the Medicare Advantage market. To further protect people with Medicare through stronger marketing policies and to promote a competitive marketplace in Medicare Advantage, CMS is proposing added guardrails to plan compensation for agents and brokers, including standardization. These proposals are consistent with the statutory requirement that CMS develop guidelines to ensure that the use of compensation creates incentives for agents and brokers to enroll individuals in the Medicare Advantage plan that is intended to best meet their health care needs.

CMS also proposes to strengthen and improve access to behavioral health care by adding a new facility type, which includes marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, addiction medicine clinicians, opioid treatment providers, and others, to CMS’ Medicare Advantage network adequacy requirements. This proposed addition builds on changes finalized last year to strengthen these requirements and would ensure people with Medicare Advantage can access vital mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

“The people we serve are at the center of the Medicare program, and we work each day to make sure the program works for them. Agents and brokers play an important role in guiding people with Medicare to the option that is tuned in to their medical needs. Our proposals on how plans compensate agents and brokers seek to support a competitive marketplace that best serves people with Medicare,” said Dr. Meena Seshamani, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare.

Currently, 99% of Medicare Advantage plans offer at least one supplemental benefit. Over time, the benefits offered have become broader in scope and variety, with more rebate dollars directed toward these benefits. CMS is committed to ensuring these offerings are effectively reaching enrollees and actually meeting their needs, and not just used for attracting enrollees. In today’s rule, CMS proposes requiring Medicare Advantage plans to send a personalized notification to their enrollees mid-year of the unused supplemental benefits available to them to encourage higher utilization. Furthermore, CMS is proposing additional requirements designed to help ensure that benefits offered as special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill (SSBCI) are backed by evidence. CMS is also proposing new marketing and transparency guardrails around these benefits. These proposals will help ensure a robust and competitive Medicare Advantage marketplace made up of plan options with meaningful benefits.

Additionally, CMS is concerned that certain prior authorization policies may disproportionately inhibit access to needed care for underserved enrollees. To provide additional safeguards, CMS is proposing to require that Medicare Advantage plans include an expert in health equity on their utilization management committees and that the committees conduct an annual health equity analysis of the plans’ prior authorization policies and procedures. This analysis would examine the impact of prior authorization on enrollees with one or more of the following social risk factors—eligibility for Part D low-income subsidies, dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, or having a disability—compared to enrollees without these risk factors. These analyses would have to be posted publicly to improve transparency into the effects of prior authorization on underserved populations. To further promote health equity, CMS is also proposing to streamline enrollment options for individuals with both Medicare and Medicaid, providing more opportunities for integrated care.

To support competition in the prescription drug marketplace, CMS is also proposing to provide more flexibility to substitute biosimilar biological products other than interchangeable biological products for their reference products to give people with Medicare more timely access to lower-cost biosimilar drugs. This proposal would permit Part D plans to treat such substitutions as maintenance changes so that the substitutions apply to all enrollees, not only those who begin the therapy after the effective date of the change, following a 30-day notice.

There will be a 60-day comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking, and comments must be submitted at one of the addresses provided in the Federal Register no later than January 5, 2024. The proposed rule can be accessed at the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/current.

View a fact sheet on the proposed rule at cms.gov/newsroom.

View the CMS Blog Important New Changes to Improve Access to Behavioral Health in Medicare at https://www.cms.gov/blog.