Golden Pushes Congress to Address Half-Measures and Budget Gimmicks in Medicare Dental Proposal

October 14, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — With negotiations on a large social program bill currently underway in Congress, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) wrote to key policymakers today on behalf of the seniors in his district who rely on Medicare. The congressman urged the committee chairmen to address glaring problems with proposed dental coverage in the Medicare program — such as waiting seven years to offer seniors the dental coverage — and to remove the program from the bill if the problems cannot be solved.

Golden has been a vocal supporter of allowing Medicare to negotiate the costs of prescription drugs for seniors and using the savings generated from that policy change to expand the benefits of the Medicare program

“I continue to believe these proposals could be among the most meaningful and effective measures Congress could take to lower costs and increase access to health care for seniors in this country,” said Golden. “However, it is critical that these changes be done in a responsible way that strengthens and protects the Medicare program in the long run. The proposed expansion of Medicare coverage included in the House Budget Committee’s draft reconciliation bill does not meet these standards.” 

In his letter, addressed to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richie Neal and Energy and Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, Golden directs the chairmen’s attention to several critical errors in the legislation, including: 

  • Seniors on Medicare would not have access to the new dental benefits until 2028
  • Full Medicare coverage would not be expanded to dental care until 2032
  • The program provides a greater benefit for wealthy Medicare beneficiaries, rather than lower-income beneficiaries.

“I am concerned that such a long delay in roll out of this coverage is a deliberate effort to shift costs outside the ten year score of this legislation, thereby masking its true cost,” Golden continued in his letter. “As a result, this is an underdeveloped proposal that would leave seniors in need of affordable dental coverage today without this benefit for at least seven years after enactment of this bill. For many seniors, this would sadly amount to an empty promise.”

While Golden has said he does not support the draft reconciliation bill approved by the House Budget Committee last month, he is actively engaged in talks with the White House and others on ways to address the flaws in the current proposal. Last week, he penned an op-ed calling on his colleagues to make hard choices in the legislation rather than engage in budget gimmicks and shortcuts. 

Read the full letter here.