ORLANDO, Fla. — On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, marking the end of a long-promised effort to deliver on climate change and drug price reduction promises he made to voters on the campaign trail.
Biden and other Democrats hope to use the Act and several other legislative and political victories they’ve scored over the past several months to stem expected Republican gains during the upcoming midterm elections. However, they’ll be championing benefits far before voters feel them.
In time, though, Floridians will feel them, whether they vote blue or red.
On the health care side, Medicare recipients will benefit from an array of cost-reducing measures, including allowing the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and capping insulin and drug payments.
Millions of Floridians will continue to enjoy subsidized Affordable Care Act coverage, since the act extended tax benefits that were on the verge of expiring, according to the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute.
However, the institute’s CEO, Sadaf Knight, said hundreds of thousands of poor Floridians would be left out. Florida is one of 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, she said, meaning there will be a gap between Medicaid recipients and people who can afford the ACA plans that won’t be covered.
Florida’s Medicaid is limited to people who make $6,000 per year or less, instead of $18,000 if the program was expanded, Knight explained.
“The Inflation Reduction Act was an opportunity to close the coverage gap by creating a solution in the bill,” she said. “That was not included in the bill and so we’re very, very disappointed in that.”
State lawmakers could fix the issue next year by overcoming their political resistance to expanding Medicaid.
The other major side of the bill, climate change, is more prominent, to the extent that some analysts have called it a climate change bill in disguise.
In addition to investments in the renewable energy industry and upgrading manufacturing plants, Democrats have aimed the law at homeowners. Floridians could receive tax benefits by upgrading their appliances environmentally friendlier ones, buying an electric car or energy-efficient heat pump or installing solar panels on their roof.
“This bill could reduce the cost of you putting solar on your home by up to 30%,” Environment Florida’s Lisa Frank said. “It’s [also] got tax credits for battery storage for the first time.”
Frank equated the Inflation Reduction Act’s impact on the solar industry to giving a worker power tools instead of manual ones, though she said the bill was just the first step toward America’s green energy future.
When asked about the negatives, she said the bill expanded oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. That will add more pollutants to the environment, she said, and threaten Florida’s coastline with more spills.
Though Republicans have blasted the bill as a handout to wealthy homeowners who can afford to purchase eco-friendly items, Frank said she believed the changes would survive a conservative administration, especially as eco-conscious Millennial and Gen-Z voters take control of the electorate.
“It doesn’t make market sense [to reverse course],” she said. “It doesn’t make environmental sense, and I don’t think that it makes political sense, either.”
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