WASHINGTON — The Democratic spending bill going through Congress contains a slew of consumer benefits, including tax credits for clean-energy household products and electric vehicles, as well as savings on prescription drugs and health insurance premiums.
The inflation-cutting bill passed the Senate on Sunday in a party-line vote and is expected to get a vote in the House on Friday, before heading to President Joe Biden’s office.
“Yes, I’m hoping to pass it on Friday,” President Nancy Pelosi told NBC News on Tuesday. “It is an excellent bill. It’s historic.
Republicans, who unanimously oppose the bill, have blasted it as a “reckless fiscal and spending spree” that won’t solve inflation and could hurt pharmaceutical innovation.
The legislation includes more than $400 billion in spending on energy and health care programs, with more than $700 billion in revenue from drug savings and increased corporate taxes.
Unlike Covid relief programs in recent years, there are no direct payments or checks in the mail for large swaths of people. So what’s in it for ordinary Americans? Here is an overview.
Ceiling paid by Medicare, free vaccines
For the first time, Medicare beneficiaries will have their annual payouts capped at $2,000 starting in 2025. Today, there is no cap. Medicare seniors would also have the option of spreading expenses over monthly payments.
The average Medicare beneficiary spent $5,460 on costs such as deductibles and copayments in 2016, according to research by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
In addition, the bill gives them free recommended vaccines, including for Covid and shingles.
Clean vehicle credit
Do you want to buy an electric vehicle? The bill offers a credit of up to $7,500 for qualified “clean” vehicles, including popular models from General Motors, Tesla and others.
That credit drops for vehicles that don’t meet all power and mineral component or battery requirements, according to details provided to NBC News by the Senate Finance Committee.
It applies to new vehicles that cost up to $55,000 – or $80,000 in the case of SUVs and minivans. And you must earn less than $150,000 in income (or $300,000 for co-filers) to qualify.
There’s a catch: the benefit is cut or eliminated unless the vehicle is sold by a “qualified manufacturer” and whose final assembly took place in North America, in order to stimulate domestic production.
For electric vehicles that are at least two years old and sold for $25,000 or less, there is a credit of up to $4,000 – eligible for individual incomes up to $75,000, according to analysis by Bipartisan Policy Center.
Credits for an energy-efficient home
The bill contains a purse of benefits to encourage the use of clean energy elements in homes over the next decade.
It increases the credit for installing qualified goods – such as Energy Star products – in non-commercial properties from 10% to 30%. This includes “solar electricity, solar water heating, fuel cell, wind power and geothermal heat pumps”, according to the Senate Finance Committee.
The legislation replaces a lifetime cap on credits with an annual credit cap of $1,200, offering $600 for energy-efficient windows and $500 for doors. This increases to $2,000 for biomass stoves and heat pumps. It also enhances existing credits to cover home energy audits (up to $150) and electrical panel upgrades (up to $600).
$35 Medicare insulin cap
For Medicare beneficiaries, the legislation imposes a $35 cap on the cost of covered insulin products beginning in 2023.
A Health Affairs study last month found that 41% of people who use insulin were on Medicare. Overall, 14% of people using insulin reported spending “catastrophic” amounts of money on insulin – more than 40% of their income left over after paying for food and housing.
Democrats also attempted to cap private-market insulin costs at $35, but Republicans opposed and that provision was overturned under the strict Senate budget rules needed to pass the bill. Subsequent attempts to add it failed.
Funding for the Affordable Care Act
The bill prevents a sharp hike in health insurance premiums on Affordable Care Act plans that were due to go into effect next year by extending enhanced ACA funding passed as part of the U.S. bailout for another three years, through the end of 2025. That means supplemental aid remains available to Americans with incomes above 400% of the federal poverty level, with premiums capped at 8.5% of the family income for “benchmark” plans.
That means there will be no sticker shock this fall for millions of Americans who would otherwise face bonus hikes due to the drying up of cash, a prospect many Democrats feared. heading towards the November 8 midterm elections.