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Michiganders: Out-of-Pocket Health-Care Costs Devastating Family Budgets

Congress is considering a major legislative package which could affect not only investments in climate change, but the affordability of health care.

Health care advocates stressed it comes not a moment too soon. One study found from 1970 to 2020, the average American's health care costs rose from $1,875 a year to more than $12,500.

Jim Manley, board member of Consumers for Quality Care, said the main concern is out-of-pocket costs are too high, according to the group's new poll. He pointed out Michiganders agree they are getting squeezed by health care costs.

"As in other states, high deductibles, rising out-of-pocket costs and unpaid medical bills are plaguing American health care consumers," Manley observed. "In the poll we did in Michigan, 67% of Michiganders agreed the cost of health care was going up more than other things they need."

The poll, by Impact Research and Michigan Research Associates, found 84% of Michigan voters say the amount they pay out of pocket for health care seems to be going up every year. The U.S. Senate could vote on the package, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, by the end of the week.

Last week, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on a bill which will allow Medicare to negotiate some drug prices and cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.

Going forward, Monique Stanton, CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, said the health care portion of the Inflation Reduction Act Inflation Reduction Act could do more but it will help relieve Michigan families of the often crushing medical bills which force them to drastically cut spending on food and other essentials.

"Congress capping insurance deductibles, your prescription drug copays, these other out-of-pocket maximums that are at levels that are reasonable for a family to afford, really helps prevent people from going into medical debt," Stanton noted. "As well as making sure that they have the access to health care."

Since no Republicans plan to vote for the bill, Senate Democrats say they will pass it under the budget reconciliation process, but must have all 50 members of their caucus and the vice president vote yes to do so. Passage could hinge on Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who has not yet said how she will vote.

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