Democrats’ Big Idea To Improve Medicare Explained

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Democrats in Congress are working to pass a bill that includes most of the party’s policies to strengthen the social safety net, including improvements and expansions in child care, education, and health care programs.

The Build Back Better Act would expand Medicare coverage to include vision, hearing, and dental—all things Medicare either doesn’t cover at all or only partially covers. Some can be covered with additional plans, especially Part C, but getting that coverage can be complicated and not comprehensive.

Without coverage, most people delay routine care and ignore concerns, which often leads to bigger health problems that could have been helped if they’d been caught sooner.

Bad oral health, in particular, can have effects on broader health if bacteria spreads to other parts of the body where it can lead to inflammation and infection.

“Vision care would begin the latter part of next year and hearing aids in 2023, but in an apparent concession to costs, dental coverage would not start until 2028,” the AP reported recently on the bill.

The Medicare program was passed in 1965 and reflected health care standards at the time, which is why those three items aren’t already included.

Democrats’ proposal would also lower the age of eligibility to 60, which would cover at least 23 milllion more people. Already, Medicare covers nearly 145 million Americans.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation data, 634,097 Iowans are enrolled in Medicare as of last year.

The bill would also allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which would lead to lower drug prices.

Most Americans support these changes to Medicare.

Polling done by Data for Progress in June shows significant support for Medicare expansion across political, race, and educational demographics. Findings show 83% of all likely voters support expansion with 89% of Democrats supporting it, 82% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans.

Support for Medicare negotiating drug prices is at 90%. Support for lowering the age is at 52%.

There was also polling done specifically in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District represented by US Rep. Cindy Axne. The poll was conducted from Sept. 17-23 with more than 600 likely voters.

The poll found 62% of those likely voters in Axne’s district support the Build Back Better plan and its proposals.

State Sen. Liz Mathis recently criticized current-US Rep. Ashley Hinson for calling Medicare expansion and other proposals included in the bill socialism.

“Ashley Hinson put partisan politics ahead of Iowa seniors by announcing her opposition to change Medicare to cover basic medical needs such as vision, dental, and hearing. This common-sense policy–which has bipartisan support from 90% of Americans—would help thousands of Iowa seniors get eyeglasses, hearing aids, and basic dental work,” Mathis said in a statement after Hinson made her comments on Iowa Press.

 

Nikoel Hytrek
9/30/21

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