Senate Democrats want to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, add new benefits to Medicare, and close a Medicaid coverage gap in a new $ 3.5 billion infrastructure package.
Democrats released its budget resolution on Monday for the package, the first step to pass the legislation in the Senate.
The budget resolution, which will be considered in the House this week, outlines long-standing and ambitious Democratic health policies that will likely include final legislation.
Policies included in the resolution include:
- Add dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare.
- Give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., A lead negotiator on the package, tweeted Monday that savings Negotiations over drug prices will help pay for other parts of the package, like adding the new benefits to Medicare.
- Create a new federal program to cover Americans who would be eligible for Medicaid if their state had expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act. Several senators have proposed legislation to create a Medicaid-like program to cover these residents.
- Make new investments in home and community-based services to “help seniors, people with disabilities, and home care workers,” the resolution said. A bipartisan infrastructure package of about $ 1 trillion originally included home care investments, but that money did not make it to the final package that will be considered this week.
- Expand a push for ACA income-based grants that were included in the American Rescue Plan Act. Enhanced subsidies will expire after the 2022 coverage year.
Democrats in the House and Senate aim to pass the $ 3.5 trillion package through reconciliation, a procedural measure that allows budget bills to pass the Senate through a simple majority and avoid a legislative obstructionism.
Each committee will craft and approve its own part of the package, and then the Senate will bundle them together for final approval, which will likely come after the nearly August recess.
The Senate is expected to pass an approximately $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package this week that would delay until 2026 a controversial Part D reimbursement rule and restart Medicare kidnapping cuts that were on hiatus during the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to pass the bipartisan infrastructure package and the $ 3.5 trillion legislation at the same time.