Vice President Kamala Harris visited Durham on Thursday to speak with senior citizens and advocates about the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce health care costs.
Harris toured the Durham Center for Senior Life and spoke to approximately 200 people about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a sweeping climate, health care and tax legislation that will establish a price cap on insulin of $35 a month for Medicare recipients. In 2025, the administration will limit out-of-pocket drug costs to $2,000 a year for Medicare recipients, Harris said in her remarks.
“Access to health care should be a right,” Harris said. “Not a privilege for those who can afford it ... We’re not talking about a luxury. We’re talking about an essential need.”
The bill passed Congress on two party-line votes in August, where the bill moved out of the Senate after Harris cast a tie-breaking vote.
Harris remarked that approximately 9% of seniors live in poverty. This number rises to 14% for women above the age of 80. Many of those people have diabetes, but some have been barred from adequate treatment due to the high cost of insulin, she said.
“Access to affordable health care is about independence,” Harris said. “Independence from debt, independence from fear, independence from pain ... Access to affordable health care is also about peace of mind. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you will never have to choose between your physical well-being and your financial well-being.”
Harris mentioned that North Carolina has one of the largest and fastest-growing senior citizen populations, making lowering medical costs a priority for the administration.
Harris was also joined by Gov. Roy Cooper, Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal and U.S. Rep. David Price. Harris and Cooper spoke with advocates and senior citizens at the Durham nonprofit about challenges in the medical system, such as overwhelming co-pays, limited access to important vaccines and Medicaid complications.
In early March, Harris spoke at Durham Technical Community College to speak about the Biden-Harris administration’s plans to create higher paying jobs for Americans. In July, she addressed reproductive rights in Charlotte in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that banned federal abortion access.
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Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.