Expanded Medicare Benefits Could Drive Innovation in MA

Before the Senate adjourns for its annual summer recess, momentum was building at press time for what would be one of the most significant changes to the Medicare program since the addition of Part D. That would be the expansion of fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing, and although details of any such legislative proposal are scarce, industry observers say the potential change could drive more Medicare Advantage plans to innovate.

Along with prescription drug pricing measures, the expanded Medicare benefits were included in a discussion draft of the $3.5 trillion spending package that Senate Democrats aim to pass via budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority rather than 60 votes typically needed to pass bills in the Senate. That is separate from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal that the chamber aims to pass this week and includes delaying the implementation of the controversial Trump-era rebate rule to 2026 — a move that has been discussed as a way to fund enhancements to the Medicare program.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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