October 7, 2021
The Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Majority Leader Schumer,
On behalf of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare’s millions of members and supporters, I urge you to reject proposals to means test new Medicare benefits as part of budget reconciliation legislation. The National Committee strongly supports adding dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare Part B and is grateful to you for your leadership in including these vital health care services in the developing budget reconciliation package.
Given competing health care and other priorities, there will be tradeoffs as Congress determines implementation timelines, duration and scope of new Medicare benefits. However, as you balance competing needs, we ask that you find solutions that maintain the integrity of the Medicare program as a national insurance program for all older Americans and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries. We believe that all Americans pay into the system during their working years and deserve a quality health insurance program at all income levels. Means testing would set a bad precedent that would divide over 60 million beneficiaries into “haves” and “have-nots”. As a result, it would erode trust for the program and undermine the overwhelming bipartisan political support Medicare currently enjoys.
Moreover, we strongly support efforts to make existing low-income programs, such as the Part D low-income subsidy or the Medicare Savings Program more generous to assist those who need help with Medicare cost sharing and out-of-pocket costs. To the extent that Congress wants to target benefits to low-income seniors, you should do so through existing programs that are already set up to determine income eligibility. This would be more efficient than requiring the Medicare program to set up administratively costly, parallel income determination and eligibility systems that would be a nightmare for seniors and people with disabilities to navigate.
For these reasons, the National Committee urges you to ensure that eligibility for Medicare benefit improvements made in an agreement on budget reconciliation legislation is not limited by beneficiary income. We look forward to working with you toward enacting benefit improvements in Medicare that will improve lives, reduce disparities, and lower chronic disease costs.
President and CEO