Senate Democrat leaders are seeking to add dental and vision medical coverage to Medicare.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted Sunday:
"There is a gaping hole in Medicare that leaves out dental, vision, and hearing coverage. This is a serious problem. I'm working with @SenSanders to push to include dental, vision, and hearing Medicare coverage in the American Jobs and Families Plans."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, has noted President Joe Biden's 2022 budget planned to include the expansion of Medicare for dental and vision coverage.
"The budget that President Biden has submitted to Congress constitutes the most significant agenda for working families in the modern history of our country," Sanders wrote in a press release last month. "At a time when more than half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck and tens of millions of Americans continue to struggle, the president's budget would create millions of good-paying jobs and substantially improve the lives of working families, children, the elderly, the sick and the poor.
"Among many other transformative proposals, I am delighted that the president's budget includes an expansion of Medicare so that older Americans finally receive the vision, hearing and dental care that they deserve."
Sanders, fearing shortcomings of the 50-50 Senate in passing bipartisan spending packages on infrastructure, jobs, and families, has planned to put together a $6 trillion budget that would be able to pass the Senate with no Senate GOP votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a 50-50 tie under the budget reconciliation tactic this fall.
"As the Chairman of the Budget Committee, I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues to write and to pass a reconciliation package that builds upon President Biden's proposal as soon as possible," Sanders' released added.
Republicans have repeatedly warned during the 2020 presidential campaign season that Democrat leadership in Congress and the White House would expand spending of taxpayer dollars on social programs, particularly with a self-proclaimed Democrat-socialist Sanders at the head of the Senate Budget Committee.
"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 told a news conference Sunday, the N.Y. Daily News reported.
"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."
The Senate filibuster rule requires 60 votes — and therefore at least 10 Republican votes — in order to pass a bill under regular rules. The budget reconciliation tactic can push through budget spending-related items with a mere simple majority, but with 48 Democrats and two independents, the vice president breaks any 50-50 tie.
"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, the Daily News reported. "Now is our chance to fix a giant Medicare healthcare hole for seniors that inevitably costs lives."
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