House Passes Groundbreaking Drug Pricing Legislation that Adds a Dental Benefit to Medicare & Protects Low-Income Seniors

By December 13, 2019Medicare, NEWS

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3). This legislation takes on meaningful drug pricing reform to make momentous improvements to the Medicare program, protect low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and help older adults and families across America afford their medications.

By empowering the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the Medicare program, H.R. 3 would make prescription drugs more affordable and generate over $450 billion in savings. The bill reinvests those substantial savings in Medicare to provide 60 million seniors and people with disabilities with dental, vision, and hearing services for the first time in the program’s nearly 55-year history. These are tangible and greatly needed benefits that will help reduce health disparities. For example, nearly 2 out of 3 people with Medicare do not currently have any dental coverage and staggering numbers have not been to a dentist in the past year: 71% of black beneficiaries, 65% of Hispanic beneficiaries, 62% of beneficiaries under age 65 with disabilities, and 59% of beneficiaries living in rural areas.

H.R. 3 would also make important progress towards better ensuring Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources can afford to use their coverage. It expands the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program to individuals with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level and expands the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) to individuals with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. These expansions would save beneficiaries thousands of dollars each year, easing their budgets and helping them keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

Read more about what H.R. 3 does to improve access to Medicare for low-income older adults and people with disabilities in our letter of endorsement.

Katrina Cohens

About Katrina Cohens

Katrina Cohens is based in Justice in Aging’s Washington, DC office and serves as the Database Manager.