As part of the ongoing negotiations on the Build Back Better package, congressional Democrats are debating varying proposals for adding a dental benefit to Medicare. In September, a comprehensive dental benefit passed both the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, which would begin in 2028.
However, ongoing negotiations between Senate Democrats including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have potentially changed the makeup of the overall bill by shrinking its size from the original $3.5 trillion over 10 years. As a result, competing proposals have emerged to cut costs, including an $800 voucher for dental care proposed by President Biden in a town hall on Oct. 21. During the town hall President Biden stated that a dental benefit in Medicare is a “reach,” and that both Sens. Sinema and Manchin were opposed to the expansion.
As part of the next steps, House Democratic Leadership is also balancing passage of the reconciliation package with a bipartisan infrastructure bill, as well as federal funding or breach of the federal debt limit in December. These other priorities have slowed the progress of the reconciliation bill, and the timeline for passage is unclear as negotiations continue. However, it remains a priority for Democrats to pass a reconciliation bill that includes expansion of dental coverage in Medicare.
NADP continues to advocate our priorities to congressional offices and are in close contact with other trade and advocacy groups. We will continue to provide updates as the process continues.
Please feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions by emailing Sr. Government Relations Analyst Owen Urech.
President Biden Town Hall Transcript
Full Text of House Reconciliation Bill (Dental on Page 635)