Apr 15 2021
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and a group of their colleagues today introduced the Choose Medicare Act to give every individual who is not already eligible for Medicaid or Medicare the opportunity to enroll in Medicare as an individual and give every employer the ability to purchase Medicare for their employees.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made abundantly clear what we already knew: The lack of affordable health insurance for millions of Americans is a public health crisis. Millions of Americans lost coverage. Many others delayed procedures or avoided getting care. And existing inequalities in health care grew even worse. That’s why this bill – to create an affordable, high-quality health insurance option managed by the government – is so important. A public option would guarantee access to care, lower costs by expanding ACA subsidies, allow HHS to negotiate drug prices and permit the federal government to block unreasonable insurance rate increases. It just makes sense,” said Feinstein.
“Medicare is the most efficient and affordable health care plan out there. So why shouldn't every individual and business have the right to purchase a Medicare plan? Why do we only allow people over 65 the ability to get the best health benefit in America? The Choose Medicare Act gives consumers the ability to decide whether they want to opt into Medicare or stay on their private insurance. It’s a great way to test the theory that Medicare is the best plan for everyone, while allowing Americans to make the choice for themselves,” said Murphy.
“In the richest country in the world, no person should have to worry about whether they’ll be able to afford care if they become sick or get into an accident. That means every American needs high-quality, affordable health care,” said Merkley. “Luckily, we already have an effective, popular solution, and it’s called Medicare. It’s time we put consumers and businesses in the driver’s seat on the road to universal health care by letting every American have the option to secure coverage through this program.”
Medicare is consistently rated the most popular and efficient health insurance system in the United States. The new plan, Medicare Part E, would be self-sustaining and fully paid for by premiums. Medicare Part E would be offered on all state and federal exchanges and people could use the existing Affordable Care Act subsidies to help pay for it. Additionally, employers could choose to select Medicare Part E rather than private insurance to provide affordable and reliable health care to their employees.
The full bill text is available here.
The Choose Medicare Act:
Increases Access, Competition, and Choice
- Opens Medicare to employers of all sizes and allows them to purchase high quality, affordable health care for their employees without requiring replacement of employment-based health insurance.
- Addresses the discrepancy between consumer protections in the individual and group markets by extending the Affordable Care Act’s rating requirements to all markets, to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions once and for all.
Provides Comprehensive Coverage
- Includes the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits and all items and services covered by Medicare.
- Provides high-quality, gold-level coverage and cost-sharing.
- Ensures coverage for all reproductive services, including abortion.
- Establishes an out-out-pocket maximum in traditional Medicare.
- Increases the generosity of premium tax credits and extends eligibility to middle-income earners.
- Directs Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs.
- Drives down private insurance premiums through competition from Medicare by allowing the HHS Secretary to block excessive insurance rates.
- Extends traditional Medicare protections on balance billing or surprise medical bills to Part E plans.