How Congress Could Expand Medicare Benefits to Cover Dental, Hearing and Vision

Asia's Tech News Daily

Democrats are trying to get their massive budget reconciliation bill passed, a process that has met with resistance from members of their own party. That means they will likely need to cut some of the bill’s proposals to shrink the overall package. For now expanding original Medicare so that it covers dental, hearing and vision care and allowing the government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs remain in the package but it is uncertain if these proposals will be in the final bill. 

© Provided by Kiplinger

Many Medicare Advantage plans, which private insurers offer, include hearing, dental and vision benefits already, but original Medicare does not. “This is an historic opportunity to meaningfully expand benefits to all in Medicare and not just those in a private plan,” says David Lipschutz, associate director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, D.C.

The proposed changes are part of a larger package, the Democrats’ Build Back Better plan, which originally cost $3.5 trillion over 10 years. But the Democrats are now looking at trimming parts of that bill to gain broader support, and the price tag has dropped to about $2 trillion.

But the proposed new Medicare coverage has the backing of 84% of voters, including 79% of Republicans, according to a Morning Consult poll from last June. Ideas with broad support tend to have staying power. In fact, the current legislation is similar to another bill that passed the House in 2019 before foundering in the Senate.

Whatever happens in Congress now, experts believe this is not the last you’ll see of these Medicare provisions. Whether in this bill or some other piece of legislation, Democrats are likely to push for them again. But how would these new benefits work, and what effect would they have on Medicare premiums?

Ideas on the Table

Any new benefits probably would be phased in. The current proposal calls for vision coverage to begin in 2022, hearing in 2023 and dental benefits in 2028. Vision coverage would include a routine eye exam and fitting services for contact lenses every two years. Medicare would cover hearing aids every five years for those with severe hearing loss and some of the costs for two preventive-care dental exams each year.

Compared with other items on the Medicare wish list, like long-term care, adding dental, vision and hearing coverage is more affordable. The price tag for these benefits in the 2019 bill was almost $360 billion over a decade, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. Of that, $238 billion was for dental coverage, $30 billion for vision care and $89 billion for hearing. “It’s kind of low-hanging fruit,” says Kenton Johnston, associate professor of health management and policy at Saint Louis University, noting that Medicare beneficiaries are reliable voters that politicians frequently court.

If original Medicare is expanded, experts speculate that the new coverage would be folded into an existing program, most likely Part B. The current proposal structures the expansion this way, giving every enrollee the new benefits, whether they want them or not.

Part B costs, including premiums, will likely rise. Even before factoring in any expanded coverage, Part B costs, which are also supported with tax revenue, were expected to continue growing — on average, 8.5% annually over the next five years, according to the 2021 Medicare trustees report.

  • SEE MORE Medicare Part A Funds to Run Out in 2026

Disgruntled Dentists Push Back

The American Dental Association, however, prefers adding a new Medicare section, like Part E, for dental benefits. The ADA contends that a separate Medicare program is appropriate because dental care differs from other health services. The ADA also wants the coverage limited to beneficiaries with income up to 300% of the federal poverty level, a group that includes about 47% of seniors, the organization says. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) also wants means testing for all of the proposed new Medicare benefits.

Some providers may wait to see how much Medicare will reimburse them for their services before signing on. The current bill doesn’t specify reimbursement amounts and leaves the decision to the Department of Health and Human Services. “I think everyone will jump on it if the reimbursement rates aren’t terrible,” says Geoffrey Joyce, director of health policy at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “You can’t walk away from Medicare [and] 70 million seniors.”

Plus, dental care is increasingly becoming essential care. “A generation ago, dental care wasn’t seen as medically necessary,” says Joyce. “Now we know that dental health is correlated with the rest of your health.”

The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Audiology are more supportive of expanding benefits, though both want tweaks to the legislation. The AOA prefers routine exams to be covered annually, instead of every two years, and the AAA wants a provision requiring a medical referral for hearing services removed.

Some experts, however, are skeptical that medical practitioners will want to participate. “I don’t think the providers would support this, the dentists especially, precisely because they would expect to see a substantial cut in what they can charge,” says Joseph Antos, a senior fellow for health care and retirement policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C.

If the legislation passes, all Medicare Advantage plans would be required to provide at least the same dental, vision and hearing benefits as original Medicare. To compete, Advantage plans would have to offer something more. Additional benefits like dental care helped propel the growth of Advantage plans over the past decade. The plans could offer new benefits or make their dental, vision and hearing coverage more generous. “Adding vision, hearing and dental to Part B would help not only people in traditional Medicare but also those in Advantage plans,” Lipschutz says.

  • SEE MORE You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge

An Rx for Rising Drug Prices

Letting Medicare negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies would help offset the costs from the expanded benefits. For the 2019 bill, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that negotiating prices would reduce federal spending by roughly $456 billion over a decade.

Proponents say the change could also help lower prescription drug costs for beneficiaries. “There’s just a really strong appetite among the public for policy-makers to do something about prescription drug prices,” says Juliette Cubanski, deputy director for the Kaiser Family Foundation‘s Medicare policy program.

The current proposal from Democrats would allow Medicare to cap drug costs at 120% of the average price in six countries (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Canada). But this would only happen if the government and the drug companies failed to agree on a lower price.

The negotiation process would only apply to single-source brand name drugs with no generic competitors or roughly 25 drugs in 2024 and 50 in later years. These would be selected from the 125 medications with the highest net Medicare Part D spending and the 125 with the highest net spending nationally.

Consequently, the proposal would likely help beneficiaries who are prescribed the most expensive drugs while possibly slowing premium hikes for Parts B and D for everyone. Currently, a relatively small number of drugs make up a disproportionate amount of spending for Part B, which covers medications administered by a doctor, and Part D, which covers outpatient prescriptions. In 2019, the top-selling 250 drugs with no generic alternatives accounted for just 7% of covered medications but made up 60% of all of Part D spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For Part B, the top 50 drugs comprised just 8.5% of covered drugs but totaled 80% of the program’s overall spending.

Most medications will probably be unaffected, Cubanski says. Medicare doesn’t need to negotiate prices for every single drug because most are already inexpensive. Instead, the legislation is aimed at lowering costs for medications with no generic alternative. “They don’t have competition forces to keep that price in check,” she says.

You’d never know that from the Big Pharma ads telling seniors that negotiating drug prices would make it harder for them to obtain their medications, a claim that Cubanski believes is misleading. “There is nothing in this proposal that would mean the government is telling Medicare beneficiaries which drugs they can or can’t use,” she says. “There is no formulary with only certain drugs covered and others not covered.”

Opponents argue that lower drug prices will mean less revenue for pharmaceutical companies to reinvest in research and development, resulting in fewer new drugs, which is true. A CBO study found that if the 2019 bill had been enacted, the number of new drugs would have been reduced by two in the first decade and by 23 over the next 10 years. 

  • SEE MORE 11 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Should Avoid Making
Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Colts coach Frank Reich: Few regrets over not running the ball in loss to Buccaneers

INDIANAPOLIS — The number was hard to ignore. Twenty-six or twenty-seven passing plays in a row, depending on whether or not a Carson Wentz scramble that was nullified by a ... Read more »

All the best iPhone Cyber Monday deals you can still shop right now

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you’ve been holding out for a new Apple iPhone, the ... Read more »

After mother and son killed days apart, Roseland community seeks answers to violence

Kevin Tinker was a quiet boy who cared for his younger siblings and spent a lot of time playing with friends, his elementary school principal said. On Nov. 21, Kevin’s ... Read more »

Bankston carries Norfolk St. over Grambling St. 70-63

PHOENIX (AP) — Kris Bankston matched his career high with 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Norfolk State topped Grambling 70-63 at the HBCU Challenge on Monday. Tyrese Jenkins ... Read more »

Boston scores 29, leads No. 1 Gamecocks past NC A&T 79-42

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Boston scored a career-high 29 points on 13-of-13 shooting and powered No. 1 South Carolina to a 79-42 victory over North Carolina A&T on Monday ... Read more »

The best Cyber Monday video game deals for PS5, Xbox and Nintendo

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. The holidays are a perfect time to catch up on your ... Read more »

Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame to be next head football coach at LSU, according to reports

LSU is expected to hire Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly to be its next head coach, according to multiple reports, with an announcing coming as early as Tuesday. Yahoo! Sports was ... Read more »

'NCIS' Fans Demand Gibbs to Return Immediately After Seeing the Show's Instagram

Photo credit: CBS Photo Archive – Getty Images “Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.” At the beginning of season 19, ... Read more »

AP source: Pinder, Kemp reach one-year deals with Athletics

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Utilityman Chad Pinder has reached agreement on a $2,725,000, one-year contract and infielder Tony Kemp is receiving a $2.25 million, one-year deal as both players avoided ... Read more »

Megan Fox's Expensive-Looking Handbag Is Just $46 on Amazon If You Act Fast

Megan Fox instagram.com/meganfox Megan Fox Amazon's Cyber Monday is full of steals — tons of brands like Calvin Klein, Levi's, and Adidas are offering some of their lowest prices ever ... Read more »

Jack Dorsey leaves mixed legacy as CEO of Twitter

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped down as CEO of the social media platform. He leaves a mixed legacy of reshaping social and political discourse, while also providing a vehicle ... Read more »

Kidnapping, endangerment trials upcoming

Nov. 29—Trial court dates have been set in Criminal Court for unrelated cases ranging in charges of kidnapping and assault to reckless endangerment. Dozens of other defendants made appearances for ... Read more »

We test thousands of products every year: These are the 5 best ones on sale for Amazon Cyber Monday 2021

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. We have a saying here at Reviewed—there’s no such thing as ... Read more »

LA begins enforcing strict mandate requiring proof of vax

1 / 7Virus Outbreak CaliforniaPatrons Naomi and Troy DeMontmorency, from Kern County, Calif., show their digital vaccination certificates to waiter Juan Rodrigues, left, before being allowed to enter the Fred ... Read more »

Scientist who helped discover Omicron variant warns of its potential

Durban, South Africa — COVID researchers suit up in protective gear before heading into the Africa Health Research Institute's high-security bio-hazard lab, where they are growing live Omicron, which will ... Read more »

Irish funeral results in 8 arrests as families clash

It was a grave situation. A serious dustup in an Irish cemetery has so far resulted in the arrest of seven men and one woman from a pair of families ... Read more »

21-year-old Kansas state legislator suspected of DUI weeks after domestic violence arrest

Controversial Kansas state Rep. Aaron Coleman, 21, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence over the weekend, four weeks after he was arrested and charged with domestic battery, ... Read more »

Waukesha Christmas parade crash: Suspect charged with 6th count of first-degree homicide

MILWAUKEE — Darrell Brooks Jr., the man accused of driving his vehicle into the Waukesha Christmas Parade on Nov. 21, was charged Monday with a sixth count of first-degree intentional ... Read more »

Police burn miners' boats in Brazil's Amazon, upping tension

The Associated PressIllegal miners display a banner that reads in Portuguese “Gold miners are not bandits, They are workers,” after more than 60 dredging barges were set on fire by ... Read more »

Losing three straight has McVay, Rams in unfamiliar position

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams didn’t win a game in November. That puts a team that was regarded as a Super Bowl favorite coming into the ... Read more »

AP source: RHP Alex Cobb closes in on contract with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Right-hander Alex Cobb is close to finalizing an agreement with the San Francisco Giants, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said Monday. The person ... Read more »

Apple says it will notify users whose iPhones were hacked by spyware

“These users are individually targeted because of who they are or what they do,” Apple said in the support document. Read more »

Covid outbreak hits Westmoreland jail as caseload surges throughout county

Nov. 29—Westmoreland County Prison is dealing with another coronavirus outbreak at the lockup in Hempfield. Nine inmates tested positive Monday after 37 active cases were discovered last week, Warden Brian ... Read more »

Chinese province targets journalists, foreign students with planned new surveillance system

1 / 5Chinese province targets journalists, foreign students with planned new surveillance systemA security surveillance camera overlooks a street as cars drive by in Beijing BEIJING (Reuters) -Security officials in ... Read more »

Old Town man to serve 9 years in 2019 beating death at Bangor home

Nov. 29—An Old Town man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison with all but nine suspended after pleading guilty to manslaughter and arson for his role in the ... Read more »

Sheriff's Office investigating rash of burglaries in Holland Township

HOLLAND TWP. — Police are asking for the public's help in the investigation of several home invasions in Holland Township over the past month. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office said ... Read more »

This Low-Cost Grocery Chain Is Raising Its Prices

For some grocery stores—like Save A Lot, Shop Rite, Grocery Outlet, and more—what they sell and how can all be found in their name. It's the same case for Dollar ... Read more »

Abingdon woman dies after being struck by vehicle on Philadelphia Road in Edgewood

Nov. 29—Maryland State Police are investigating a Sunday night hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian in Edgewood. The incident occurred at about 7:30 p.m. on Philadelphia Road east of Fashion ... Read more »

New Lava Vents on La Palma Volcano Threaten Previously Unaffected Land

Scientists in La Palma, Spain, warned that lava flowing from new vents on the Cumbre Vieja volcano could reach previously unaffected areas of the island. Footage shared by the Canary ... Read more »

Over 109,000 People Own Amazon's Most Popular Sweatshirt — and It's Only $9

Hanes $9 Sweatshirt Deal Getty Images I have a bad habit of buying a concerning amount of sweatshirts and sweatpants. At this point, my collection is more than enough for ... Read more »

Abandoned toddler saying ‘mama' and ‘papa' found near Texas-Mexico border, feds say

An abandoned toddler child was found among a group of migrants traveling through Texas on Nov. 28, border officials said. Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas ... Read more »

Elizabeth Holmes accuses ex-lover, business partner of abuse

1 / 3Theranos Founder-Fraud TrialElizabeth Holmes, center, leaves federal court in San Jose, Calif., Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Elizabeth Holmes, the one-time medical entrepreneur now charged with building a fraudulent ... Read more »

‘Sick and tired': Ralliers say Attorney General Schmitt upholding wrongful convictions

1 / 2‘Sick and tired’: Ralliers say Attorney General Schmitt upholding wrongful convictions Family members of several Missouri prisoners who claim they were wrongfully convicted rallied outside Attorney General Eric ... Read more »

Suspect in Edgefield County manhunt out on bail, charged in 2017 newborn homicide

Nov. 29—The suspect in an Edgefield County manhunt is currently out on bail after being charged with homicide by child abuse of a North Augusta newborn in 2017. The Edgefield ... Read more »

Seoul Museum of Craft Art is now fully open

Treasure No. 653 “Folding Screen of Embroidered Sagye Bungyeogdo” (SeMoCA) After successfully showcasing eight craft art exhibitions, the Seoul Museum of Craft Art held its official opening ceremony Monday, unveiling ... Read more »

UPDATE: Man allegedly pointed gun at neighbor

Nov. 29—NORTH MANKATO — A North Mankato man is facing felony assault and other charges after reportedly pointing a BB gun at a neighbor. Pedro Theodore Trinidad, 40, answered his ... Read more »

Movie Theaters Must 'Urgently' Rethink the Experience, Study Says

A moviegoer carries concessions at a movie theater in Burbank, Calif., Oct. 7, 2021. (Philip Cheung/The New York Times) LOS ANGELES — About 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer ... Read more »

How a seaweed jab can beat agony of a slipped disc

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo A gel made from natural seaweed is currently being tested on patients as a treatment for slipped discs. Animal studies have shown that, ... Read more »

Body found in pond near La Sierra University in Riverside

Riverside police were investigating the discovery of a body near the entrance to La Sierra University. (Los Angeles Times) Riverside police were investigating the discovery of a body near a ... Read more »

Jussie Smollett's attorney says ex-'Empire' actor was 'a real victim' of a 'real crime' in Chicago attack

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett’s attorney says ex-‘Empire’ actor was ‘a real victim’ of a ‘real crime’ in Chicago attack. Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic