U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday called for the extension of health insurance to include dental care, vision, and hearing benefits, part of the legislation he and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont want to be added to President Biden’s infrastructure plan.
Progressive advocates have pushed to add dental, vision, and hearing in healthcare as these services have been excluded since the federal health plan was passed in 1965. Health care providers must pay for additional or private coverage, as the service does not normally pay for these benefits.
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Schumer said that one in five elderly people in the US has untreated tooth decay that may lead to other health problems. One million Americans over the age of 65 have had vision loss due to glaucoma, he stated.
Extending health care has long been a priority for Sanders, an independent who joins the Democrats.
Adding these three benefits could increase health care spending by $358 billion over 10 years, according to a 2019 Congressional Budget Office estimate. The same report pointed out that allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies could cut spending by $456 billion, which would provide a net benefit.
Senate Democrats are working in two ways to increase infrastrastructure spending — one with the support of both parties, and other would allow the democratic control chamber to pass the bill without the support of the Republicans through a process called reconciliation.