A member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet joined US Rep. Cindy Axne for a Thursday roundtable at the Southside Senior Center in Des Moines to explain how the Build Back Better Act will improve the lives of older Iowans.
Specifically, Axne and US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra discussed expanded Medicare benefits, the high cost of prescription drugs, and increased resources for home and community-based services.
The agenda was advanced in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.
During introductions, Becerra said high prescription drug prices and the lack of coverage for vision, dental, and hearing in Medicare are high-priority issues addressed by the legislation.
He and Axne also emphasized aid for unpaid caregivers, oftentimes family members, who have day jobs in addition to providing care for their relatives.
As the people around the table spoke, they emphasized the importance of these changes and thanked Becerra and Axne for their attention to the issue.
People at the table also raised issues of transportation for seniors, accessibility of care for minority populations, gender bias, and the impending surge of Americans who will need to access this type of care.
“If you all stick to your guns and if Congresswoman Axne has her way to get the rest of this policy through, that $400 billion for community-based services is exactly what we’re talking about here to give people dignity,” Becerra said. “And not just for people who need the help; for people providing that help.”
Becerra said with the number of resources in the plan, he and his office want to hear every idea and concern people have so they can put some of those resources behind them. After, he paused to chat individually with some speakers.
“It’s not just the right thing to do for our caregivers and for patients across the country who are seniors, but I think it’s our New Deal,” Axne said. “It is the best opportunity for this country to get back on the right track.”
by Nikoel Hytrek