Changes in Medicare Benefits Uncertain

Changes in Medicare Benefits Uncertain

One of the controversies being fought over is what changes to make in Medicare, including coverage of dental, vision and hearing benefits.  According to one report, Democrats remain especially divided on that Medicare piece and whether to focus funds on expanding Medicaid, as well as on a proposal to regulate drug prices.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has said that every revenue measure his committee approved last week is still under consideration, including allowing government negotiation of prescription drug prices.

He said the exact prescription drug pricing negotiation language was still under discussion. It could be as broad as a House-passed bill from the last Congress that would make hundreds of prescription drugs subject to price negotiation for Medicare and the private market, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would reduce deficits by roughly $500 billion, or a narrower version that would save less money.

Those fights are just in the House.  But there are more in the Senate.

According to a report in Bloomberg  Government News, “Senator Joe Manchin said Thursday he doesn’t support expanding Medicare benefits without first addressing the program’s [Medicare’s] long-term solvency, again putting him at odds with Senator Bernie Sanders and other key liberals as they negotiate President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

“Asked about Democrats’ plans to expand benefits for dental, vision and hearing in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill, the West Virginia Democrat pointed to the program’s long-term financial problems instead.”

The report continued, “Manchin did, however, reiterate his support for Medicare negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs -- another top Democratic priority imperiled by a small group of House Democrats during negotiations on Biden’s economic agenda.

“’We definitely should let Medicare negotiate the prescription drug prices. That’s one thing that should be done for sure,’ he said.”

TSCL is watching these developments very closely and we will determine our support of the legislation concerning changes in Medicare after the final draft of the legislation is put together and released.