Celebrating 35 years of making Medicare more accessible, affordable, and equitable!

Senate Lays Groundwork for Legislation That Includes Major Health Care Improvements

The top of the United States Capitol set against a blue sky with wispy clouds.

This week, Senate Democrats passed their $3.5 trillion budget resolution, laying the groundwork for legislation that is expected to include key Biden administration and congressional priorities. 

The non-binding framework instructs Senate Committees to begin writing legislation that meets certain spending and policy targets, with the goal of completing a draft by September 15. Senate Democrats intend to use special budget rules, known as reconciliation, to try and pass the bill later this year along party lines—with 51 Democratic votes and without the threat of a Republican filibuster. 

Importantly, the budget resolution outlines plans for major health care improvements and investments, such as adding dental, vision, and hearing coverage to Medicare; increasing funding for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS); and addressing high and rising prescription drug prices.

However, these and other listed policies are not yet detailed or final. As Senate Majority Leader Schumer told his colleagues on Monday, “Please remember that the resolution only includes ‘top-line’ reconciliation instructions to the committees, and that every Senator will have opportunities to shape and influence the final reconciliation bill…” 

The House will briefly return from summer recess the week of August 23 to vote on the fiscal blueprint, allowing their committees to similarly begin the bill writing process. 

Medicare Rights urges policymakers to seize this opportunity to strengthen health care systems, programs, and coverage. This includes crafting and passing a budget reconciliation bill that reduces prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs; addresses harmful gaps in the Medicare benefit; and expands Medicaid HCBS. We also support changes to simplify Medicare enrollment during the pandemic and beyond, streamline Medicare Part D appeals, update Medigap rules, and ease access to Medicare’s low-income assistance programs.

The budget resolution is an important first step, but nothing is set in stone. Weigh in today to help make sure long-overdue Medicare and Medicaid policy solutions are in the final reconciliation bill.

Read Senate Democrats memo and one-pager on the Budget Resolution Agreement Framework.

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