President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE said Thursday that expanding Medicare to include hearing, dental and vision benefits would be a “reach” amid ongoing negotiations with Democrats over his sweeping economic agenda.
During a CNN town hall, Biden told anchor Anderson Cooper that Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden should seek some ideological diversity Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin MORE (D-Ariz.) — two key moderates at the center of ongoing negotiations about how to scale back Democrats’ reconciliation bill — are opposed to the expansion.
“That’s a reach and the reason why it’s a reach — I think it’s a good idea and it’s not that costly in relative terms especially if you allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices,” Biden said. “But here’s the thing — Mr. Manchin is opposed to that as is, I think, Sen. Sinema.”
Biden explained Manchin’s opposition by saying he “doesn’t want to further burden Medicare … because it will run out of its ability to maintain itself in X number of years.”
“Look, Joe’s not a bad guy. He’s a friend and he’s always at the end of the day come around and voted,” Biden said.
The president said there have been related discussions about potentially giving recipients a $800 voucher for dental work, but he said there has been less consensus on vision coverage.
Democrats have been wrangling over competing health care proposals as they look to scale back the sweeping spending package so that the price tag comes down from $3.5 trillion. Biden suggested in private meetings with lawmakers earlier this week that the final compromise bill would need to be around $2 trillion.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Briahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal MORE (I-Vt.) has been pushing for expanding Medicare to include hearing, dental and vision benefits and has called the provisions non-negotiable. Democrats are also discussing proposals that would expand coverage under Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Still, Biden expressed optimism about the prospect of a deal on a compromise package, though he wouldn’t predict when lawmakers and the White House would settle on an agreement. There was hope earlier this week that a breakthrough could be reached by the end of the week, but that seems unlikely as of Thursday.