Also last week, House Democrats unveiled a range of health care measures to be included in their coming $3.5 trillion package, including provisions to lower prescription drug prices and expand Medicaid in the 12 GOP-led states that have refused to do so. The measure unveiled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee includes legislation to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, known as H.R. 3.
Separately, the House Ways and Means Committee Means Committee approved the largest expansion of Medicare since the addition of drug benefits two decades ago.
The bill would provide seniors with vision benefits in 2022, hearing benefits in 2023 and some dental benefits by 2028. Progressives are pushing for an earlier start to the dental benefits and that the government increase its share of the cost, which ramps up to 50% by 2032.
Democrats have delayed the start of the program in part because of its cost and an agreement to limit the overall spending in the Biden budget bill to $3.5 trillion. There is some talk on Capitol Hill of offering seniors limited vouchers to use toward dental benefits before 2028 as a compromise.
Meanwhile, Republicans argued that Medicare should not be expanded when its hospital fund is already slated to be insolvent in 2026.