Part of the Democrat’s $3.5 trillion budget plan includes provisions for an expanded Medicare program for American senior citizens. Released last Monday, the budget plan proposes to provide expanded Medicare that includes additional dental, vision, and hearing coverage.
Expanded Medicare Benefits
Medicare is the primary health insurance for senior citizens 65 years and older. As part of the proposed budget blueprint, Medicare will take on additional coverage for dental, vision, and hearing. In addition, there are proposals to lower the eligibility age. This includes lowering the cutoff to age 60, as President Joe Biden suggested.
In addition, the expanded Medicare benefits are part of Biden’s economic agenda that aims to spend on the home front. This includes climate change health care and family service programs.
However, there is no certainty that any or all of the programs outlined by Biden will pass Congress’ budget resolution process. In addition, there are many detractors to Biden’s economic agenda, with many saying that the President loves programs that go beyond his tenure.
Meanwhile, health care advocates hope that the provision for expanded Medicare will get bipartisan support. “This would be a very big deal for the Medicare program and Medicare beneficiaries,” said David Lipschutz, associate director and senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “If Congress adds [those] benefits, it would fill some major gaps in coverage that the program has had since its inception,” he added.
62.8 Million Seniors Enrolled In Medicare
About 62.8 million individuals are currently enrolled in Medicare. A majority of members rely on the program as their primary health insurance. It was created in 1955 and its coverage reflected the trends at the time. This explains the lack of dental, vision, and hearing coverage. “But as the health-care system has evolved, Medicare has often been slow to catch up,” Lipschutz said.
The original Medicare coverage consists of Part A covering hospitalization, and Part B, which covers outpatient care. Barring exceptions, dental, vision, or hearing-related issues are not part of the coverage.
Tricia Neuman, executive director for the Kaiser Family Foundation’s program on Medicare policy, welcomed the proposal to include all three to Medicare. “It would be a significant improvement [to provide coverage] for people who often go without needed care because they can’t afford it and for people who pay a lot for the care they need,” she said.
Enrich Benefits For Seniors
While limited coverage is possible through Medicare’s Plan C (Advantage), the coverage is not comprehensive. Lipschutz said that if the expanded Medicare benefits will add dental, vision, and hearing, “this would enrich benefits for all beneficiaries.”
But who will pay for this? Democrats said their budget plan will get funding from three sources. These are higher tax revenue, healthcare savings, and long-term economic growth.
Biden earlier proposed imposing higher taxes on the rich and corporations. He also wanted to enlarge the budget for the IRS to bulk up its enforcement efforts.
Expanded Medicare Is Nothing New
The additional coverage details are still up in the air. However, similar bills are now making the rounds at the House. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced a bill that proposes additional coverage to Medicare.
This includes dentures, preventive and emergency dental care, refractive eye exams, and eyeglasses, and hearing aids and exams.
The expanded Medicare coverage also made a previous attempt to clear Congress. A broader health-care-related bill got approval from the House in 2019. However, the Senate did not take the matter up. Under the previous proposal, beneficiaries would have chipped in the standard 20% for some dental coverage.
Watch the CNBC Television video reporting that the Senate is releasing its $3.5 trillion budget resolution:
Do you agree with proposals for expanded Medicare coverage? Also, do you think this will help senior Americans have a better quality of life?
Let us know what you think about widening medicare benefits. Share your thoughts below.