The Public Option Is Back: Senators Introduce Bill Allowing People To Buy Into Medicare

Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced legislation that would allow people age 55-64 to buy into Medicare. This modified public option would give an additional 41 million Americans access to Medicare.

Under the Medicare for 55 Act, people would be able to buy into Medicare and receive the same benefits and protections as enrollees in Medicare parts A, B, and D.

In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, Sen. Tammy Baldwin said, “Wisconsinites have sent a clear message to Washington that they want us to work across party lines to make health care more affordable, not more costly,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our legislation offers a choice for millions of older Americans to buy more affordable, quality health care coverage. For people between the ages of 55 and 64, this is a high-quality option that can help reduce health insurance costs and increase competition.”

People age 55-64 spend more money out of pocket on health care costs, and the legislation would solve a big problem that existed in all of the Republican Obamacare replacement plans. The GOP plans all made healthcare more affordable by reducing coverage and raising premiums and costs on older Americans.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow said, “People between the ages of 55 and 64 often have more health problems and face higher health care costs but aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. If you live in Michigan, are 58 years old, and are having a hard time finding coverage that works for you, this bill will let you buy into Medicare before you turn 65. Our legislation is one way we can work together on a bipartisan basis to lower health care and prescription drug costs.”

The future policy path for the Democratic Party is moving towards a public option of some sort. Medicare for all is a nice goal, but changing the entire employer based health insurance system is never going to be popular, or affordable.

The policy option that would get the US to universal coverage would be an income based public option for either Medicare or Medicaid for the uninsured. Obamacare was never meant to be the final step on health care, and after the total collapse of Republican efforts to repeal the ACA, Democrats are giving the people what they want, access to affordable health care.

Jason Easley
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