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Petition to the United States Congress:

Expand Medicare Benefits to Cover the Whole Senior

Medicare provides health insurance for more than 52 million Americans, half of whom live on incomes below $23,500 per year. Medicare households now spend on average 15% of their income on health coverage, which is three times more than younger households spend for health coverage. There are gaps in Medicare’s coverage including basic dental, hearing and vision services.

Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. Research has shown older adults with hearing loss are 32% more likely to require hospitalization, face a 24% increased risk for cognitive impairment and increasingly suffer from isolation and depression.

Older adults are 2 ½ times more likely to visit a dentist regularly for preventive care when they have dental insurance yet 70% of seniors do not have access to dental coverage putting them at higher risk for periodontal disease and oral cancer.

Allowing Medicare to cover the cost of hearing, dental and vision care would not only improve the health, dignity and independence of millions of seniors, it makes good economic and policy sense by potentially preventing the costly effects resulting from disease and neglect.

I petition Congress to pass legislation, such as Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) HR 1653, the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2015, which provides Medicare coverage for routine hearing services and Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL) H.R. 3308, the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act, which provides Medicare coverage for hearing, vision and dental services. It’s time to start addressing the vital health care needs of the whole senior.

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