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Higgins, Larson, Courtney & Welch Introduce Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act

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Thu, Feb 14th 2019 04:20 pm

Legislation provides Americans age 50-64 access to Medicare

In a news conference on Capitol Hill, Congress members Brian Higgins (NY-26), John Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Peter Welch (VT-AL) announced plans to introduce the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act. The legislation will expand access to Medicare to allow those aged 50-64 to buy into the program, providing millions more Americans who are more likely to have pre-existing conditions and face premium increases as they near retirement with an option for affordable health care.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) joined the members of the House at the news conference to announce similar Senate legislation, which will also give people the option of buying into Medicare at age 50.

Recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown a Medicare buy-in plan for those aged 50-64 was supported by 77 percent of the public, the highest level of support among any of the plans included in the survey.

Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said: “Medicare has been a reliable and popular health care program for millions of Americans for more than 50 years. Despite the successes of the Affordable Care Act, we are still paying too much for health care and this bill would provide the access to high-quality care offered by Medicare to a new segment of the population, improving outcomes at lower costs than we see today. This bill will create more choice for consumers and, as a result, help keep down costs and help stabilize our insurance markets.”

Additional original cosponsors of the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act include Reps. Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Denny Heck (WA-10), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Dina Titus (NV-01), Paul Tonko (NY-20) and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07).

Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act

For those age 50-64, here’s how the Medicare Buy-In would work:

  • Participants purchase Medicare coverage (Part A, B and D, or a Medicare Advantage plan) at-cost, keeping the program budget-neutral;
  • Plans are offered on the exchanges, providing opportunity for comparison-shopping;
  • Those eligible for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions could apply them toward their buy-in premium;
  • A public medigap option is created for all Medicare beneficiaries to ensure enrollees are able to access and afford all the benefits they need; and
  • Authorizes HHS to negotiate volume discounts on prescription drugs to achieve even greater savings in the system to the benefit of all Medicare beneficiaries.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs were first implemented in 1965 through the Social Security Act. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 59 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare in 2018.

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