April 16, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin Help Re-introduce Bill to Make Medicare Available to Everyone


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and seven of their Senate colleagues in introducing the Choose Medicare Act, legislation that would 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.

“All Americans deserve high-quality health coverage, and this legislation is an important step toward making healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Illinoisans,” Duckworth said. “It’s clear that the American people don’t want us to go backward, which is why I’m helping re-introduce this important bill. The Choose Medicare Act builds on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act by increasing competition, which will help lower costs and give businesses the opportunity to purchase Medicare plans for their employees if they so choose.”

“Giving more people the chance to purchase Medicare—while keeping the program viable and protected for today’s seniors—will increase health insurance affordability and access in America,” Durbin said. “We know Medicare works, and I’m proud to support this effort to expand its reach to more Illinoisans. People should have the choice of a private plan or a public one—this legislation gives them that choice.”  

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 and a summary of the bill is available here

The Choose Medicare Act would:

  • Increase Access, Competition, and Choice
    • Open 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.
    • Address 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.
  • Provide Comprehensive Coverage
    • Include the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits and all items and services covered by Medicare.
    • Provide high-quality, gold-level coverage and cost-sharing.
    • Ensures coverage for all reproductive services, including abortion.
  • Improve Affordability
    • Establish an out-out-pocket maximum in traditional Medicare.
  • Increase the generosity of premium tax credits and extends eligibility to middle-income earners.  
  • Direct Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs.
  • Drive down private insurance premiums through competition from Medicare by allowing the HHS Secretary to block excessive insurance rates.
  • Extend traditional Medicare protections on balance billing or surprise medical bills to Part E plans.