This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) released new data that shows overwhelming support for improved Medicare coverage of essential health services. In addition, on Friday, lawmakers in the House adjourned for a five-week recess.
Seniors Support Medicare Coverage Expansion
On Tuesday, The Senior Citizens League released new data that shows nearly 80 percent of older Americans believe Medicare should cover dental, vision, and hearing services. Under current law, the Medicare program is prohibited from covering these critical services, and many older Americans living on fixed incomes cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for costly care and assistive technologies like eyeglasses or hearing aids.
When asked how Congress should address the lack of coverage, 79 percent of poll respondents said Medicare coverage should be expanded, while 14 percent said private Medicare Advantage plans that sometimes cover more of these services should be better promoted. Only 7 percent of respondents said Medicare’s coverage of dental, vision, and hearing services should remain unchanged.
A growing volume of research is linking problems with eyes, ears, and teeth to health problems elsewhere in the body. Links have been found to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, respiratory illness, cancer, sleep apnea, dementia, and many other serious health conditions. Better care has been found to improve overall health in patients. Mary Johnson – a policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League – said this week, “Adding coverage may help both patients and Medicare save money on other costs.”
The poll results released this week show clearly that older voters want Congress to improve coverage of these essential services. The Senior Citizens League has endorsed legislation called the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act (H.R. 508), a bipartisan bill introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and 130 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. If adopted, it would expand Medicare coverage to include vision, dental, and hearing services.
In the weeks ahead, The Senior Citizens League will continue to advocate for the passage of H.R. 508, and we hope to see it signed into law by the end of the 115th Congress. For more information about the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.
House Adjourns for Five-Week Summer Recess
On Friday, lawmakers in the House returned to their home districts for a five-week recess. They are expected to return to Washington on Tuesday, September 4th, following the Labor Day holiday. In the meantime, many Members of Congress will be attending local events and hosting town hall meetings in their home states and districts. The Senior Citizens League encourages its supporters to attend these events and to ask important questions of their elected officials, like the following four...
- Social Security beneficiaries received a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) this year, but most have seen their benefit increases completely offset by higher Medicare Part B premiums. Do you support legislation that would give older Americans a more fair and adequate Social Security COLA?
- In April, lawmakers on the Republican Study Committee proposed a budget blueprint that would have reformed the Medicare program and cut Social Security benefits by adopting the “chained” CPI, eliminating the COLA for some seniors, and raising the eligibility age. Did you support this budget blueprint, and if so, why?
- The federal government negotiates prescription drug prices for Medicaid and for veterans, but it is barred from negotiating lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. As a result, senior citizens enrolled in Part D often pay much higher prices for their prescriptions. What are you doing to correct this unfair policy?
- Medicare is currently prohibited from covering most hearing, vision, and dental services, even though millions of seniors are afflicted with age-related hearing loss, low vision, and poor oral health. When left untreated, these conditions often result in serious injuries and complications. What do you feel should be done about this?
For information about town hall meetings near you in the weeks ahead, call the local offices of your elected officials. For contact information, click HERE.