During a recent hearing on healthy aging, Sen. Bob Casey, ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging, highlighted his legislation, the Medicare and Medicaid Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act, which would ensure that Medicare includes dental, vision, and hearing services in their basic coverage.

This bill would provide states with an increased federal match in Medicaid funding to provide this care and would ensure standard coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries.

“Federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Older Americans Act have made healthy aging a reality for millions of Americans,” said Casey. “However, Medicare is not required to cover dental, hearing, or vision services. I have heard story after story of seniors struggling to afford these basic benefits.”

Medicare provides healthcare coverage to more than 2.7 million Pennsylvanians. However, they are not guaranteed a standard dental, hearing, or vision benefit.

Without coverage for these services, necessary medical care is out of reach for many and can lead individuals to experience a decline in their health.

Brian Long, of West Hempfield Township, testified at the hearing about his experiences as the lead coordinator of the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Mobility Resources for Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon, where he helps seniors, caregivers, veterans, and people with disabilities locate services and supports in their community.

Long also serves as a volunteer representative for the Southcentral Regional Council on Aging, where he advocates for and advises the Pennsylvania Department of Aging on delivery of services for older adults.

“This [legislation] is a must-do,” Long said. “There is no reason to delay. With the growing baby boomer population, these issues are going to become more and more prevalent.”

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