July 19, 2021
Senate Democrats Announce Package to Expand Medicare to Include Dental, Hearing and Vision Benefits
On Tuesday night, top Senate Democrats came to terms on a blueprint for a massive $3.5 trillion budget resolution to pair with a proposed $600 billion bipartisan physical infrastructure plan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) confirmed that funding to add dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare would be included in the resolution, addressing exclusions that have left millions of older Americans with dental problems and expensive bills for vision and hearing treatments. However, not every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus has endorsed the deal and full details of the plan have not been released.
With Medicare’s anniversary coming up on July 30, the addition of dental, vision, and hearing benefits would represent a substantial modernization and improvement of the program at an opportune time. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said that the Biden administration is in support of this and any improvement Congress is willing to make to Medicare.
“While Medicare has been crucial to providing seniors with guaranteed health coverage for nearly 56 years, there are pieces that have been missing and must be added to provide comprehensive care,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Older Americans look forward to building on the success Medicare has had over those 56 years and not having to worry that getting a dental check-up, a hearing aid, or a new eyeglasses prescription will lead to financial ruin.”
He added, “Those benefits should be paid for by allowing Medicare to negotiate the lower drug prices that seniors so desperately need.”