There is a truism in journalistic circles that has come to be known as Betteridge’s Law that any article which has a question in the title can easily be answered by a simple ‘no’. This may well be the case for this blog too, but the positive aspect is that 76 Members of Congress have signed on to a bill introduced by Representative Lloyd Duggett (D) of Texas. His Medicare Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act seeks to provide expanded coverage for those three services.
At the present time a basic Medicare plan provides you with none of those services and they are only covered if you are willing and able to pay the price through enrollment in a Medicare Advantage program. The bill, if passed, would allow everyone on Medicare to receive the care they need in those vital areas with no cost sharing for preventative care and just the standard 20% co-pays for all other services.
There are also plans afoot to allow for Medicare coverage to be available to those without disabilities who are 60 and older rather that the current 65 age limit that is currently in place. Naturally, the expansion will not be inexpensive: it is estimated that it will cost $358 billion over ten years, and that doesn’t include the cost of expanding coverage to younger Americans. The bill has already met with opposition from the private health care industry whose motivation to provide services may not be entirely altruistic after all.
To once again address the question in the title, the answer is likely to comply with Betteridge’s Law, as versions of this bill were introduced in 2016, 2017, and 2019 and not one got beyond a referral to the Subcommittee on Health.