Medicare, the federal health insurance program that typically provides coverage to Americans ages 65 and above, could look different in the coming years. Due to the pandemic, less revenue is being funneled into the trust fund that supports Medicare Part A, which means it could run out of funds several years earlier than 2026 as last projected, CNBC reported. In addition, a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act could also have repercussions for the Medicare program.
“It’s not entirely clear how a full dismantling of the ACA would impact Medicare,” Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Medicare policy program at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told CNBC. “But there’s a real risk that it would increase costs for seniors, be highly disruptive for health-care providers and exacerbate solvency challenges facing the Medicare Part A trust fund.”
No matter who wins the presidential election, these issues will need to be addressed — and former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump both have their own plans for what Medicare will look like going forward. Here are some of the changes that could occur under the two presidential nominees.
It Might Expand To Include Americans Ages 60 and Older
Biden wants to lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60. Enrollment would be optional during that five-year period, CNBC reported.
It Might Expand To Include More Benefits
Right now, dental, vision and hearing coverage are not provided by Medicare. Biden wants to expand Medicare to provide this coverage, CNBC reported.
Medicare Beneficiaries Could Receive Direct Payments To Cover Costs
Medicare Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage, has premiums, with higher earners paying more. Trump has said that he wants to send $200 payment cards to some Medicare beneficiaries to help them pay for prescription drugs, CNBC reported.
Drug Costs May Also Be Lower Under Biden
Biden wants to make it legal for the government to negotiate prescription drug prices, CNBC reported. This could reduce out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
Other measures Biden would like to enact to lower drug prices include prohibiting most drug prices from rising faster than inflation, capping out-of-pocket spending on Medicare Part D and allowing consumers to import prescriptions from abroad.
The Most Pressing Issue Will Be Medicare Part A Funding
Medicare Part A provides beneficiaries with hospital coverage and has no premiums — so rather than being funded by Medicare enrollees, it is funded by a trust. Because that trust could be insolvent in the next few years, whoever is the next president will need to take action to ensure Part A remains in play.
Keeping it funded “will require Congress and the next president to step in and make sure Medicare is able to meet its future obligations,” Neuman told CNBC.
Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of policy at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told CNBC that this needs to be the priority for the next president.
“If they are going to do something with health care, I’d start with saving Medicare Part A,” he said.
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