Five Facts on Build Back Better Act Provisions

The House version of the Build Back Better Act contains many provisions that have been covered in detail. But within its 2,468 pages are some significant programs and tax credits that have been less discussed. Here are five of them.

  1. The bill would provide $35 billion to cover hearing care under Medicare.

This provision remains after provisions to provide vision and dental care under Medicare were removed. More than 26 million seniors — 42% of the total Medicare population — are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, and many of these plans already include hearing care.

  1. The bill includes $40 billion for job training programs.

About half of American workers say they need to learn new skills to continue in their current jobs, and the pandemic has widened the “skills gap.” But as Wired reported earlier this year, the U.S. “has, historically, done a poor job of helping people who have been displaced by offshoring, automation, recessions, and other economic dislocation,” and “programs to help workers into higher-wage jobs have an uneven record at best.”

  1. The White House is seeking $100 billion to reduce immigration backlogs, expand legal representation for migrants, and update asylum procedures.

While this funding is included in the framework released by the White House, it is not included in the $1.75 trillion figure being cited as the full cost of the Build Back Better Act — meaning the real cost of the bill could be $1.85 trillion. The Senate parliamentarian has previously ruled that immigration policy changes are beyond the scope of a reconciliation bill, so this provision’s fate is unclear.

  1. Free school meals would be extended to approximately nine million more students, and would provide a $65-per-child monthly benefit to about 29 million children during the summer months.

Brookings Institution research released earlier this year indicates that school lunch programs increase student performance and decrease school violence.

  1. The legislation would create 10-year expanded tax credits for utility-scale and residential clean energy, transmission and storage, clean passenger and commercial vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing.

At $320 billion, these tax credits account for nearly 20% of the full cost of the legislation. The current tax code applies tax credits differently for various clean energy investment, with wind energy getting a 30% credit but geothermal heat just 10%. Nuclear power, which accounts for one-fifth of all U.S. electricity consumption, receives no support. Some critics have suggested a revenue-generating carbon tax rather than expanded credits.

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