Biden says it's 'a reach' for expanded Medicare benefits to be included in spending bill due to Manchin opposition




  • In Politics
  • 2021-10-22 01:47:58Z
  • By Business Insider
Biden town hall
Biden town hall  
  • During a CNN Town Hall Thursday, President Biden said that expanded medicare coverage was 'a reach.'

  • He said chances of the provision making the bill were slim because of Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition.

  • The touted expansion would cover dental, vision, and hearing benefits for Medicare recipients.

During a CNN Town Hall on Thursday, President Joe Biden said it's "a reach" to expand Medicare so it covers hearing aid, dental, and vision coverage in the Democratic social spending bill due to Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to the provisions.

"It's a reach, because of Mr. Manchin," Biden said in response to whether he expected the expanded Medicare coverage to be included in the final bill. "Joe's not a bad guy, we're friends."

In their social spending package, Senate Democrats have sought to expand Medicare so it covers dental, vision, and hearing benefits. Yet Biden's remarks concede Democrats hit a roadblock due to Manchin. The president said he believes Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is opposed to the overall expansion as well.

Biden added that Democrats were nearing a deal to include an $800 voucher so many seniors can access dental coverage and some hearing benefits. But there's no agreement yet within the party on what to do about vision.

During the town hall, Biden also said that he did not support a work requirement for the expanded child tax credit included in the bill, which Manchin has pushed over the objections of the vast majority of Democrats.

Earlier on Thursday, Manchin told reporters that he doesn't think Democrats will reach a deal on a social-spending bill by the end of the week. "This is not gonna happen anytime soon, guys," Manchin said.

Over the last few months, the Democrats' initial $3.5 trillion legislation has been diluted after stiff resistance from moderate Sens. Manchin and Krysten Sinema.

Once an agreement is reached, Democrats plan to push the final bill through the reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority vote.

Medicare expansion has been a chief priority of Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee. He has called it a red-line in the negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also supported the measure.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden suggested the final price tag could be as low as $1.75 trillion, with Biden reportedly ready to cut funding for free community college - an early administration priority - from the bill.

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