Health: The “Build Back Better” Bill and Medicare

The Story:

Key legislation for the agenda of President Joseph Biden, the “Build Back Better” bill, is deadlocked in Congress. Although much of the public discussion of the bill involves the bottom line price tag (which may be $3.5 trillion or $2 trillion or something else) it would be wise for concerned citizens to go into the particulars of what that price, whatever it is, may buy, especially with regard to health care.

Three Specifics:

The bill contains a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies over drug policies, in the expectation that Medicare’s power as a buyer can have the effect of lowering dug prices for all Americans.

It adds dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare.

And it would expand home care for older and disabled Americans, while increasing the pay of the home care workers who care for them.

In Pill Form:

The Democratic Party has 222 seats in the House of Representatives. A bare majority would be 218 seats.  The edge in the Senate is even slimmer: a 50-50 tie with the Vice President available as necessary to break that tie in favor of the Democratic administration. Under these circumstances achieving success on a complicated bill that faces united Republican opposition is proving extraordinarily difficult, but one can not yet write it off as impossible.

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