House Ways & Means members today marked up three Medicare benefits expansion bills. (Credit: House Ways & Means) House Ways & Means members today marked up three Medicare benefits expansion bills. (Credit: House Ways & Means)

Members of the House Ways & Means Committee passed three Medicare benefits expansion bills Tuesday by voice votes.

If adopted and implemented as written, the bills would add dental insurance benefits, vision insurance benefits, and hearing care insurance benefits to the Medicare benefits package.

(Related: Taking the Bite Out of Dental Care Costs in Retirement)

The bills are:

  • H.R. 4650 (the Medicare Dental Act of 2019 bill): This bill would add coverage for preventive, basic and major dental services, such as coverage for bridges, crowns, root canals and dental implants, to the definition of the “medical and other health services” covered by Medicare, in Section 1862(s) of the Social Security Act of 1935. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is the sponsor, and the bill’s Congress.gov page lists six cosponsors. All of the cosponsors are Democrats.
  • H.R. 4665 (the Medicare Vision Act of 2019 bill): This bill would add coverage for vision exams, eyeglasses, basic eyeglass frames and contact lenses to the to the Medicare definition of “medical and other health services.” Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., is the sponsor. The bill’s Congress.gov page lists five cosponsors. All of the cosponsors listed are Democrats.
  • H.R. 4618 (the Medicare Hearing Act of 2019 bill): This bill would add coverage for hearing exam and hearing aids to the Medicare “medical and other health services” definition. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., is the sponsor. The bill’s Congress.gov page lists five cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

The bills include provisions for sharing the cost of care with the patients, and quantitative limits on the amount of products and services, such as dentures, eyeglasses or hearing aids, that the patients could get over specified periods of time. The current versions of the bills do not specify annual benefits spending maximums.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bills last week, by voice votes.

At press time, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation had not posted analyses of the impact of the bills on federal spending, and the House Rules Committee had not posted a meeting announcement for the bills.

The House Rules Committee packages legislation for action on the House floor.

The House Rules Committee has said it will meet next week to package bills seeking protection for areas such as the Grand Canyon and the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area. It’s possible that the committee could handle the Medicare bills by bundling them as amendments to one of the area protection bills.

Related

Links to resources related to the Medicare benefits bill markup, including a video recording of the markup meeting, are available here.

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