Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced his support for adding dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare. This Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) led bill continues to collect more backing. Schumer said on Sunday, “With the current Medicare platform, those three things are just left out, like it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal and we should fix it.”
“If you talk to family medicine or primary care doctors, they will tell you with certainty that ignoring medical issues related to dental, vision and hearing often devolves into far more serious medical problems for people — especially seniors — that cost more to treat and are harder to remedy,” Schumer said, according to the New York Daily News.
An uphill effort
Although it would be incredibly difficult to pass a Medicare for All bill in the presently divided Congress, such a plan has support from most Americans. A Morning Consult poll conducted in March found that only 32 percent of voters oppose Medicare for All. But 55 percent are in full support of the idea, which would create single-payer health insurance for everyone in the country.
Schumer said the campaign to expand Medicare will be an “uphill legislative effort,” adding that lawmakers will have to “galvanize support from the public.”
“This is absolutely an uphill legislative effort because there are some in the Senate who really don’t think this is a problem worth fixing, and so we have to galvanize support from the public,” Schumer said to the Daily News.
“Now is our chance to fix a giant Medicare health care hole for seniors that inevitably costs lives,” he added.
Earlier this year, Sanders, along with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), authored an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for Medicare to cover costs for those crucial needs.
“It’s past time to fix the gaping holes that are the lack of coverage for dental, vision and hearing, which are so critical, especially as we age,” the two lawmakers said in their op-ed.
Sanders and Jayapal:
“Since its inception in 1965, Medicare has not covered such basic health-care needs as hearing, dental care and vision. The result: Millions of senior citizens have teeth rotting in their mouths, are unable to hear what their children and grandchildren say or can’t read a newspaper because of failing eyesight. It is a cruel irony that older Americans do not have coverage for these benefits at the time when they need it the most.”
Senate Majority Leader has agreed with Sanders on other aspects of Medicare expansion, including lowering the eligibility age and supporting a public health insurance option to compete with private companies.
Schnell, M. (2021, June 21). Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare. TheHill. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/559356-schumer-now-backing-sanders-plan-to-add-dental-vision-and-hearing-coverage-to?rl=1.