Dental and insurance lobbyists quietly target Democrats’ Medicare expansion plan


Highlighting the for-profit healthcare industry’s tireless efforts to avoid any reduction in its bottom line, whatever the cost to the American public, lobbyists for health insurers and dentists are stepping up pressure on lawmakers to ensure that they leave full Medicare coverage on the $ 3.5 trillion in spending. plan is now making its way through Congress.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Who led the negotiations on the package as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has long call for Medicare must include dental, vision and hearing care and has demanded that these provisions, in addition to lowering the age of eligibility, be included in the bill.

“The American Dental Association’s opposition to a universal dental benefit in Medicare is reminiscent of WADA’s original opposition to Medicare itself.”
—Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation

According to Politics, groups including the American Dental Association (ADA) – threatened by the possibility of patients switching to traditional Medicare plans instead of higher-paying private Medicare Advantage plans – are pushing Congress to apply means-testing to the provisions.
“Let’s focus on those who currently cannot afford a dentist, the people most likely to end up in the emergency room,” said Michael Graham, ADA senior vice president of government and public affairs, who wants Congress will limit dental benefits to people earning less than 300% of the federal poverty line.
Surveys show that millions of Americans, not just those living in poverty, have a hard time affording dental care and often go without it to save money. Last year, one in five seniors Recount The National Healthy Aging Survey said they had delayed taking charge of their oral health for the past two years, with a majority saying cost played a role in their decision.
In 2018, nearly half of Americans surveyed by NORC noted they went without routine cleaning or a dental check-up that year, and 39% said they had avoided seeking treatment for a dental problem.
Ninety-three percent of seniors Recount the national survey on healthy aging that they have promoted the inclusion of dental coverage in traditional health insurance.
Given the popularity of including more comprehensive benefits in the program, Politics reported, “The industry is aware of the lens of publicly opposing coverage of eyeglasses, dental and hearing aids, and lobbies extensively behind the scenes.”
Larry Levitt, executive vice president of health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the ADA’s current lobbying campaign is reminiscent of the efforts of health lobbyists in the 1960s to prevent the creation of the Medicare program, when the American Medical Association Recount public health insurance would “put the government in your hospital” and warn against socialized medical care.

In addition to the means test, at the behest of health lobbyists, lawmakers are debating longer phased-in dental care or greater cost-sharing for patients to protect patients. profits from insurers who sell additional coverage for hearing, vision and dental care. .

Insurance companies, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who chairs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Recount Politics, “You have no interest in traditional health insurance providing comprehensive coverage.”

“This is one more reason, in my opinion, that we have to do this,” Doggett said.


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