House Democrats want to add dental benefits to traditional Medicare in seven years as well as coverage for major treatments and preventive services.
The House Ways and Means Committee released the language for the additional benefits Tuesday, which will be part of a $3.5 trillion infrastructure package being considered this fall in Congress. The panel is holding a markup of the legislation on Thursday.
“This is our historic opportunity to support working families and ensure our economy is stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient for generations to come,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, the committee chairman, in a statement.
The legislation aims to add dental, vision and hearing benefits to traditional Medicare. The legislative text released Tuesday is the first look at how Democrats would implement the benefits.
If the legislation makes it into law, Medicare would cover two dental cleanings a year for beneficiaries starting in 2028 as well as other preventive services such as x-rays. The legislation would also cover basic treatments such as extractions as well as major treatments like root canals.
The legislation also detailed how much providers should be charged for dental services. The payment amount for dental services is the lesser of the actual charge for the service or an amount determined under a fee schedule similar to the payments for physicians.
The Department of Health and Human Services also could decide to bundle payments for services like dentures and other procedures together.
The panel predicts that it will cost $20 million a year from 2022 through 2028 to implement the new dental benefits.
Lawmakers also want to add coverage of hearing aids and eyeglasses to Medicare, but those benefits would be phased in much faster. It aims to include hearing aid coverage by 2023 and coverage for vision such as eye exams and eyeglasses by Oct. 1, 2022.
The implementation dates and payments could change, however, as Congress debates the exact details of the $3.5 trillion package.
Democrats have also considered giving drug price negotiation authority to Medicare to help pay for the new benefits.