U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, Alliance for Retired Americans, and Protect Our Care Advocate for Expanding Medicare Benefits to Include Hearing, Dental, and Vision
On Medicare’s 56th Anniversary, Protect Our Care Released New Report Illustrating How the Savings From Drug Pricing Reform Could Be Reinvested in Strengthening Medicare Benefits
Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA-08) and President of the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans Jackie Boschok joined Protect Our Care for a virtual press conference to mark Medicare’s 56th anniversary and discuss how prescription drug pricing reform will generate robust savings that could be used to expand Medicare benefits to include dental, vision, and hearing. As it stands, millions of Medicare beneficiaries are currently without coverage in all three areas, profoundly impacting the health and well-being of seniors and people with disabilities.
During the call, Protect Our Care unveiled a new report as a preview to Week 8 of Lower Rx Summer, which focuses on strengthening Medicare benefits. Lower Rx Summer consists of themed weeks of action to illustrate the urgent need for legislation to lower drug prices principally by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices for all Americans.
President Biden and members of Congress have an unprecedented opportunity to finally take action to lower drug prices. In 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3), historic legislation that would lower drug prices for all Americans. H.R. 3 would save patients over $150 billion and the federal government $500 billion, which could be reinvested to strengthen health care for millions. These savings could help lower premiums on the ACA marketplaces, expand coverage to Americans stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap, and strengthen Medicare benefits to include hearing, vision, and dental.
“I am really proud to be the House sponsor of the Medicare Vision Act, and it does feel like we can get this over the finish line,” said U.S. Representative Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA-08). “We want to make sure that seniors and younger people with disabilities can live independently and safely for as long as possible. An important factor of independent living is making sure that they can see well enough to drive to appointments, walk safely around the house, and carefully read prescriptions. I was happy to see the Senate’s announcement that expanding Medicare to cover hearing, dental, and vision will be included in the reconciliation bill.”
“Medicare has given us a lot to celebrate over the years, and the best way to celebrate as we recover from the pandemic is to build back better and strengthen it for the future for all of us,” said Jackie Boschok, President of the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans. “I can’t express enough what a difference lower drug prices and access to guaranteed hearing, dental, and vision benefits would mean for the 1.6 million Washingtonians who rely on Medicare. We must let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices and use those savings to expand Medicare to provide vision, dental, and hearing benefits.”
“Giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices is a win-win policy,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Not only will Americans see major savings at the pharmacy counter, but millions of seniors and people with disabilities could finally gain access to vision, dental, and hearing benefits. There has never been a more urgent time to improve health care access, and Democrats won’t stop until they deliver lower costs and better care for the American people.”