November 18, 2021 — Who knows if it will ever pass a fractured congress, or even what would be in such a bill if it were ever signed into law. But as the Build Back Better bill stands today, there is a lot for older Americans to like.
The potentially most attractive parts of the bill for seniors concern healthcare and prescription drugs. Here are some of the features in the bill as of this date:
Hearing aids for Medicare patients. Currently more than 25 million Medicare recipients need hearing aids, which often cost $6000 or more per set.
Monthly insulin charges capped at $35, along with maximum annual out of pocket costs for drugs of $2000. Currently about 2.5 million people on Medicare pay more than that, and those with very expensive drugs pay far more.
Medicare would have the right to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. The number of drugs would be very small, but could save pharmacy costs for millions of recipients. Needless to say this part of the bill is being intensely lobbied.
More money for home health care. This could help an estimated 800,000 Americans on the waiting list for nursing homes get care in the community.
To get passed, the bill, in whatever final form it takes, would take every Democratic Senator and almost every Democratic Representative to vote for it, since there appears to be no Republican support. Key in that support will be the cost estimates provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which reported that the bill will add about $ 367 billion to the deficit over 10 years. The bill passed in the House on 11/19 and now moves on to the Senate.