July 12, 2021
Congressional Democrats Eye Multiple Paths to Medicare Improvement
Congressional Democrats are seeking to include vision, dental and hearing coverage in Medicare in new legislation rolled out this week. The bill, announced by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX), would initially add preventive dental, hearing and vision care to Medicare Part B and later expand those benefits further to cover basic impairments.
Seventy-six Democrats have signed on to the Doggett bill so far, and Bernie Sanders (VT) and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (NY) are championing a similar effort in the Senate. Currently, if Medicare enrollees want such coverage, they are required to choose a private Medicare Advantage (MA) or supplemental policy.
Just 53% of seniors said they have dental coverage in a University of Michigan poll released in 2020. The seniors with coverage indicated that having dental coverage was a big reason they enrolled in MA instead of the traditional program; 72% said they chose a MA plan at least in part for that reason.
“Medicare has provided quality, affordable health care for millions of seniors,” said Executive Director Fiesta. “Congress should allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and the billions in savings should be used to expand Medicare’s coverage to include dental as well as hearing and vision care for all beneficiaries.”