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PROMISES KEPT: Democrats Unveil Groundbreaking Budget Blueprint To Expand Health Access And Lower Costs

By August 9, 2021No Comments

Democrats have taken bold action to ensure Americans have access to the health care they need in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Big steps have been made, but Democrats remain laser-focused on advancing health care access, as demonstrated in today’s release of a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint. This groundbreaking budget resolution is being hailed the “most significant expansion of the nation’s social safety net since Medicare and the Great Society,” and seeks to expand Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing, extend subsidies for those purchasing their health coverage on the Marketplace, close the Medicaid coverage gap, and lower prescription drug prices. Americans have demonstrated the importance of health care reform, ranking the issue as their top priority year after year and today Democrats have responded with the action necessary to meet this moment. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement:

“Health care costs and coverage are at the top of voters’ concerns, particularly because of the pandemic. The health care proposals in this budget resolution are a historic leap forward for lowering health care costs and improving care for millions of Americans. These provisions would reduce the costs of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs by hundreds of billions of dollars, add dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare, and bring Medicaid coverage to millions of Americans who are currently left behind.”

Expanding Medicare To Include Dental, Vision, And Hearing

Lifeline For Seniors. “The megabill would expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing benefits (which are mostly or entirely not covered in standard Medicare plans), meaning it could be a huge help to seniors who incur those expenses.” [Vox, 8/9/21]

Including Long Standing Budget Priorities. “The blueprint recommends adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare, as well as lowering the eligibility age — both longstanding goals of Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats.” [CNN, 8/9/21]

Reinvesting Savings To Fund Care For Seniors. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders: “We will save taxpayers hundreds of billions by requiring that Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and we will use those savings to expand Medicare by covering the dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses that seniors desperately need.” [8/9/21]

Extending ACA Subsidies

Ensuring Marketplace Access. “The resolution also calls for extending the enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies contained in the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, which passed in the spring. The subsidies reduce the amount Obamacare enrollees have to pay to no more than 8.5% of their income and make assistance available to more Americans. Also, lower-income policyholders can receive subsidies that eliminate their premiums completely. But the boost in aid is only available this year and next.” [CNN, 8/9/21]

Extending COVID-Era Subsidies. “Democrats also intend to make temporary, pandemic-inspired expansions in subsidies for people getting health care on Obamacare’s individual marketplaces permanent.” [Vox, 8/9/21]

Closing The Medicaid Coverage Gap

Expanding Medicaid Coverage. “Creating a new federal health program for Americans who live in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A dozen states have yet to do so…More than 2 million low income adults fall into the coverage gap.” [CNN, 8/9/21]

Providing Coverage To Hold Out States. “There are still 12 states that have not implemented Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to more low-income people, and Democrats have committed to ensuring they get coverage in this bill.” [Vox, 8/9/21]

Lowering Prescription Drug Prices

Hundreds of Billions In Savings. “The instruction also calls for lowering the price of prescription drugs, saying it will save hundreds of billions of dollars. Democrats have long pushed to reduce drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, though some of their peers in the party, as well as GOP lawmakers and the pharmaceutical industry, have opposed it.” [CNN, 8/9/21]

Empowering Medicare Negotiation. “Democrats also plan to empower Medicare to negotiate with the federal government on prescription drug pricing, something that would drive prices down for seniors. It has the added benefit of driving costs down for the federal government, which would help pay for the megabill’s new spending.” [Vox, 8/9/21]