Democrats are trying to get their massive budget reconciliation bill passed, a process that has met with resistance from members of their own party. That means they will likely need to cut some of the bill’s proposals to shrink the overall package. For now expanding original Medicare so that it covers dental, hearing and vision care and allowing the government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs remain in the package but it is uncertain if these proposals will be in the final bill.
Many Medicare Advantage plans, which private insurers offer, include hearing, dental and vision benefits already, but original Medicare does not. “This is an historic opportunity to meaningfully expand benefits to all in Medicare and not just those in a private plan,” says David Lipschutz, associate director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, D.C.
The proposed changes are part of a larger package, the Democrats’ Build Back Better plan, which originally cost $3.5 trillion over 10 years. But the Democrats are now looking at trimming parts of that bill to gain broader support, and the price tag has dropped to about $2 trillion. The Medicare expansion and negotiating drug prices could always be dropped or drastically altered in the final bill.