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Shaheen Helps Reintroduce Medicare-X Choice Act to Expand Access to Health Care to Millions of Americans

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in reintroducing legislation to create a public option by expanding on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare. The Medicare Exchange (Medicare-X) plan would offer families, individuals and small businesses low-cost health insurance, decrease the number of uninsured Americans, control the cost of health care and increase competition in the health insurance market.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to expand access to high-quality and affordable coverage. Medicare-X would help achieve universal health care by making coverage more affordable and accessible.

“The deadly pandemic has shone light on just how dangerous lack of access to health care can be for millions of families in America. The time is now for immediate action to lower health care costs and increase access to coverage, and that’s why strengthening the ACA through a public option is critical,” said Shaheen. “Medicare-X is a common-sense step to reduce costs and give Granite Staters more options for their health coverage. I’ll continue to support good-faith efforts to ensure families get the quality, affordable care they need.”

The bill would work within the Medicare framework to establish a Medicare Exchange public option plan in every county in America for individuals and small businesses, providing an additional, affordable option in all communities. It would also build on the ACA and expand premium and cost-sharing support to make all exchange options even more affordable for the uninsured.

Medicare-X would expand Medicare’s network of doctors and providers and guarantee the essential health benefits established in the ACA, such as maternity care and mental health services. Medicare Exchange plans would expand benefits and provide all primary care services without cost-sharing requirements for plan holders.

Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to protect and improve the ACA, including leading all 47 Senate Democrats on a Senate resolution that would reverse the Department of Justice’s decision to side with U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling that would strike down the ACA. This health care sabotage could result in 133 million Americans losing protections for pre-existing conditions, millions more Americans without health insurance, soaring prescription drug costs for seniors, and nearly 90,000 Granite Staters losing health care coverage. Senator Shaheen also spearheaded Senate Democrats’ proposal to make health care affordable and accessible for Americans during the COVID-19 public health emergency. She introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to counteract the Trump administration’s sabotage efforts that slashed funding for health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent after Donald Trump took office. She also introduced the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to prevent the former Trump administration from using federal premium tax credits to promote and incentivize enrollment in “junk plans” that do not provide coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits. Shaheen, Baldwin and Warner called on the last administration to do more to prevent third-party web brokers from steering individuals toward these junk health insurance plans.  

Shaheen championed a health care affordability package that includes three pieces of legislation to reduce health care costs for patients and expand access to critical medical services. Together, the Marketplace Certainty ActImproving Health Insurance Affordability Act and Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act would make essential reforms to the health care law that would help stabilize the marketplace, lower premiums for middle-class families and combat escalating out-of-pocket health care costs.