U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree: What the Inflation Reduction Act means to Mainers
Washington, September 13, 2022
Dirigo. As Mainers, we know well the meaning of our Latin motto: “I Lead.”
And we live by it. Whether by leading the United States in its approach to lowering health care costs, or by aggressively fighting climate change, Maine has made this motto much more than a word on a flag or a bumper sticker.
Addressing the high price of prescription drugs has been one of my biggest focuses as an elected official. The cost of prescription drugs has burdened families in Maine and across America for decades.
More than two decades ago, when I was a state senator in Augusta, I joined Maine seniors on trips to Canada because their prescriptions were too expensive here in the U.S. Sadly, the same is true – and far worse – today. In fact, a recent study found that U.S. prescription drug prices are 256% higher than in other countries.
As Maine Senate Majority Leader, I spearheaded the effort to lower costs for our seniors. We enacted “Maine Rx,” becoming the first state in the entire nation to stand up to Big Pharma by empowering the state to directly negotiate drug prices.
While Maine took these groundbreaking strides, only so much can be done at the state level to keep health care costs low without federal intervention. To achieve true reform, the country must move forward as one.
Because of our new law, the federal government can finally tell pharmaceutical companies what Medicare will pay, instead of Big Pharma dictating costs and endangering the lives of millions through price gouging. In Maine, this change will positively impact nearly 350,000 beneficiaries.
This historic legislation also caps out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 for seniors on Medicare, and extends critical Affordable Care Act subsidies for three more years. This locks in lower health care premiums that save 13 million people an average of $800 a year.
The changes ushered by the Inflation Reduction Act don’t stop at health care. The law will also lower home energy bills, fight the climate crisis, and take a major step towards greater tax fairness.
The United States is the world’s second-greatest contributor of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Being a leader in this respect means we have a moral duty to lead the way in reducing the emissions that drive climate change.
After former President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement, states like Maine took matters into our own hands to fight the climate crisis. Our “Maine Won’t Wait” Climate Action Plan is among the nation’s boldest climate plans to reduce emissions, produce energy from renewable sources, create new clean jobs, and fight to protect our natural resources, communities, and people from the worst impacts of climate change.
Because the challenge in front of us is daunting.
The continuing droughts and extreme weather events we have seen this summer alone show just how destructive – and costly – the effects of climate change will be on our state and nation. Wildfires. Flooding. Unprecedented storms. Maine in particular has struggled from severe drought in recent months – threatening the livelihoods of farmers from Bridgton to Bangor.
I came to Congress with the goal of keeping our planet habitable. In the face of Republican denial and obstruction, Democrats just delivered the largest climate investment in U.S. history. By investing $369 billion in climate and energy, the Inflation Reduction Act puts us on a path to reduce emissions 40% by 2030. And importantly, it will lower prices on energy bills and empower farmers and forest owners to embrace climate-smart agriculture.
Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, we are closer than ever to achieving Maine’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
And guess what? These investments will all be paid for by requiring very large and profitable corporations and the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases for families making under $400,000 a year and no new taxes on small businesses. At long last, the Inflation Reduction Act gives our government the tools to crack down on millionaire tax cheats, creating real fairness in our tax system and returning billions to the federal government.
Americans sent Democrats to Washington to get things done. With passage of major bills like the Inflation Reduction Act, the American Rescue Plan, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Democrats in Congress and President Biden have delivered real, life-changing legislation for the American people.
It was my great honor to help make the Inflation Reduction Act a reality. Mainers will enjoy its benefits for years to come.
Dirigo!Read my op-ed in the Portsmouth Herald here.