Rockefeller on Friday introduced an amendment to a bill in the Senate Finance Committee that would expand Medicare to "add dental, vision, and hearing coverage to the list of mandatory benefits for Medicare recipients." The cost would be offset by "capping itemized deductions at 35%," according to the committee's Web site.
Historically, the ADA has opposed including dentistry in Medicare.
Another amendment, proposed by Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would remove dentistry, vision, and some other supplementary types of health benefit from an excise tax that the bill would levy on health insurance costs exceeding a threshold of $21,000 for a family or $8,000 for an individual.
Taking another approach to the same issue, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) would change the excise tax (levied on insurance companies) to an income tax (levied on individuals) and raise the threshold to $9,400 for an individual and $24,000 for a family. But it would leave dental benefits among the coverage that would be taxed.
The other significant amendment, offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) would allow dental insurance companies to sell standalone policies in government-supported exchanges. The bill would set up these exchanges to foster competition in the insurance market, and it mandates that insurance sold through them include pediatric dental care among other benefits. The current language would prevent these benefits being offered separately in the exchanges.
Meanwhile in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Children's Dental Health Project, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) has proposed an amendment to a bill being considered in the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would add an oral health expert to a proposed committee to decide what benefits to include in mandatory insurance plans.
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