Congress budget deal to reportedly include Medicare benefits expansion

Medicare benefits will cover dental, vision, and hearing care while lawmakers haggle over expanding eligibility.

As Democrats in Congress struggle to get their policy agenda in action an upcoming budget resolution may expand the services covered by Medicare.

The Washington Post reports that Democrats within the $3.5 trillion plan to expand Medicare benefits to include vision, hearing, and dental care which have up till now been relegated to Medicare Advantage plans.

The Democrats had hoped to include more into the package, which can be passed without Republican votes, but more centrist dems like Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, have insisted that the whole package must be paid for.

“How much more debt can y’all handle?,” the Post reported Manchin saying.

The additional services would cost about $358 billion over the next 10 years, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The Post reports that Democrats are also eyeing making marketplace subsidies permanent, lowering the Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60, and finding a way to get low-income people covered by Medicaid in the handful of Republican-led states which have refused to expand the program.

As for the Biden administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says they will take what they can get as far as expanding Medicare.

Speaking to Kaiser Health News’ “What the Health?” podcast, Becerra said the administration’s preference is to just get something done with expanding Medicare.

The Post reports that the details of the deal have not been made public yet.