With the future of Build Back Better in question, Medicare changes are tabulated

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Medicare beneficiaries may not see the improvements to the plan they expect — at least not anytime soon.

With Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., saying Sunday that he cannot support his party’s Better Back Building Act in its current formThe Medicare-related provisions of the $1.75 trillion bill are also in jeopardy. Although the House of Representatives passed the bill in November, the measure would need Manchin’s backing to remove the Senate.

The provisions related to Medicare include a provision that allows the federal government to negotiate the prices of certain drugs with drug companies, in order to reduce the cost of certain prescription drugs.

Price negotiations with drugmakers will begin in 2025 with up to 10 drugs that year. That number will reach 20 by 2028.

Additionally, the measure would limit beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on Medicare drug benefits (Part D) to $2,000 annually starting in 2024 (with annual adjustments) and insulin costs will be capped at $35 per month.

For some of Medicare’s 63.3 million beneficiaries – the majority of whom are 65 years of age or older – limiting out-of-pocket spending can mean thousands of dollars in savings each year because there are currently no limited. According to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 1.2 million subscribers spent more than $2,000 on drugs distributed through Part D in 2019.

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Hearing services will also be covered under Part B (outpatient care insurance) starting in 2023. This will include hearing treatment and rehabilitation services, as well as hearing aids.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he plans to put the bill, in some form, to a vote early next year despite Manchin’s disapproval. It is uncertain what the revised version of the bill would look like and whether Medicare provisions would be included. With the future of Build Back Better in question, Medicare changes are tabulated

Emma James

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