May 01, 2019

Durbin, Duckworth, Senators Introduce Choose Medicare Act To Make Medicare Available To Everyone

Medicare Part E - For Everyone - Will Allow Everyone With Private Insurance The Option Of Medicare, Increase Marketplace Competition


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 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. The Choose Medicare Act also gives 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, so let’s build on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act by increasing competition to lower costs and give businesses the opportunity to purchase Medicare if they so choose.”

“This boils down to whether you believe health care is a privilege for the wealthy and healthy few, or a right for everyone.  I believe it's a right for all Americans and that we must do more to increase competition and lower health care costs for people nationwide,” Durbin said.  “By giving more Americans the choice to participate in Medicare, while simultaneously safeguarding the program for today’s seniors, this bill represents an important next step toward our shared goal of affordable, quality health care for all."

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 their existing Affordable Care Act subsidies to help pay their Medicare premiums, if they chose to enroll in the program.  In addition, employers would have the opportunity to provide Medicare Part E to their employees instead of, or in addition to, private insurance.  The full bill text is available here and a summary of the bill 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.

Improves affordability

  • 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.