Medicare Dental Benefit postponed to 2028 under Democrats’ bill (1)
Seniors with Medicare would enjoy visual and hearing benefits over the next two years, but would wait until 2028 to receive dental coverage under the legislation, a key panel of bedroom.
The measure, which is expected to be a central part of the Democrats’ $ 3.5 trillion national policy agenda, is said to be one of the biggest expansions in Medicare benefits since its prescription drug program inception nearly 20 years old.
“This is our historic opportunity to support working families and ensure that our economy is stronger, more inclusive and more resilient for generations to come,” said the representative. Richard neal (D-Mass.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
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The proposal would first create a sight benefit in 2022, followed by hearing coverage in 2023, then dental benefits from 2028. It could significantly improve the quality of life of older people, many of whom do not have. additional coverage for services.
Dental coverage is by far the most expensive of the three Medicare programs: the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office previously estimated that such coverage would cost $ 238 billion over 10 years, compared to $ 30 billion for vision and $ 89 billion. dollars for hearing coverage.
The Ways and Means Committee is expected to start reviewing the legislation on Thursday. Democrats plan to move the package forward using reconciliation, a procedure that bypasses the need for Republican votes in the Senate. Expansion of Medicare benefits has the backing of several key Democrats in this chamber, including the Majority Leader Chuck schumer (DN.Y.), President of the Budget Bernie sanders (I-Vt.), And Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (Golden.).
The ways and means marking will also include legislation to fund physician training, strengthen elder justice programs and address staff shortages in long-term care facilities. Its hearing coverage would not include over-the-counter devices.
The legislation would leave important details to the Department of Health and Human Services, including payment rates for dental services.
Dentists would remain excluded from the merit-based incentive payment system, Medicare’s quality improvement program that determines payment adjustments.
Tricia Neuman, who studies Medicare at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the government could take several years to implement the new dental benefit because few dentists are currently enrolled in Medicare. It could take Medicare years to educate dental offices about the program, she said.
According to the proposal, Medicare would pay only half the costs of major dental treatments, such as bridges, crowns and root canals. Michael Monopoli, vice president of grant strategy for CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, a nonprofit that lobbied for dental care, said coverage should be closer to 80% payout for most similar Medicare services.
“This will be a major benefit in the lives of Medicare members,” he said, adding that he believed the benefit should begin before 2028.
Just over half of adults 65 or older currently have dental coverage, according to a University of Michigan survey. About half of those covered are covered as employees or retirees, or spouses of employees.
Providing dental benefits to seniors is a good poll among Democrats, according to a 2019 Families USA survey. About 7 in 10 probable voters said they supported adding oral health coverage to Medicare and 8 in 10 Iowa Democrats supported adding a dental benefit to Medicare, according to investigation.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 26% of Medicare beneficiaries, or about 13 million seniors, had access to dental coverage through Medicare Advantage (Medicare plans offered by private insurers). According to HHS figures, an additional 7.2 million Medicare registrants are also eligible for Medicaid, which provides dental and other benefits that Medicare does not cover.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at [email protected]