Partners for Dignity & Rights sent the following letter to Members of Congress calling on them to expand Medicare through the 2021 budget reconciliation process to cover dental, vision and hearing care without cost barriers, remove the prohibition on federal bargaining over drug prices and lower the Medicare age to 50.
Dear Member of Congress:
Since 1965, Medicare has been a bedrock of the American health care system and American social contract that guarantees elders and people with disabilities essential medical care, yet that guarantee has never been complete. On behalf of the communities we work with across the country, we are writing to ask you to vote in this year’s budget reconciliation to add comprehensive dental, vision and hearing benefits without cost barriers, remove the prohibition on federal bargaining over drug prices, and lower the Medicare age to 50.
Millions of Americans are struggling to get the care they need—suffering through tooth pain, poor vision and hearing, and medical debt—and we are all paying harmful amounts of money to pharmaceutical companies for drugs that can be produced and sold far more cheaply. Nobody should have to endure needless dental pain, suffer without glasses or hearing aids, skip doses of medication, or have to decide whether to pay for medical care or for rent, food and electricity. This deprivation is entirely unnecessary. It is immoral to force people into these situations, and is also terrible public health and economic policy that produces all sorts of costly harms for individuals and society ranging from missed work to car accidents to preventable medical emergencies. Our public money should be going directly to meeting these medical needs, not to padding the profits of Big Pharma and private equity.
Although Medicare Advantage plans offer some additional benefits, tens of millions of Americans are excluded by the cost of these plans, complicated enrollment and narrow networks. Expanding traditional Medicare, standing up to drug companies and protecting the health of middle-aged people are essential to this country in the 21st century.
We have a historic opportunity to protect the health and financial security of generations of people today and well into the future. We believe this is a decision that will help shape the legacy of the 117th Congress in 2022 and well beyond. In the name of public health, justice and democracy, we strongly urge you to support these critical improvements to Medicare.
Kenyon Farrow & Liz Sullivan-Yuknis, Co-Executive Directors