Thursday, August 12, 2021
Kaiser Health News published a story, Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Services So Many Seniors Need? Noting that eye glasses, dentures, and hearing aids aren't covered under original Medicare, the story reports that "On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released an outline of a coming budget bill that includes a directive to the Senate Finance Committee to expand Medicare “to include dental, vision, hearing benefits.” The catch — all the Democrats in the Senate and almost all in the House will have to agree on the entire budget bill for it to become law." But why haven't those been added to Medicare before now? "[I]n the 56 years since Medicare became law, only a few benefits have been added to the package, which was created to emulate a 1965 Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. During the 1980s and ’90s some preventive care was added, like pneumonia vaccines and mammograms. Republicans spearheaded the addition of prescription drug coverage in 2003, when they controlled both Congress and the White House. But they decided to make that coverage separate from the program’s traditional benefit package." The article details the hurdles in expanding coverage and asks, why now and why these items are proposed to be added. The article suggests a couple of reasons, both of which involve politics to some degree. Hopefully the winner here will be the Medicare beneficiaries.