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Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Make Medicare Available to Everyone

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), joined by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), introduced the Choose Medicare Act to give every individual who is not already eligible for Medicaid or Medicare the opportunity to enroll in Medicare as an individual. The Choose Medicare Act also gives every employer the ability to purchase Medicare for their employees.

“Granite Staters want to see Congress improving the accessibility and affordability of quality health care, and this legislation would be a critical step forward,” said Shaheen. “Medicare beneficiaries overwhelmingly approve of their coverage, and allowing more people the option to enroll in a Medicare plan would drive down costs, help address the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs and give millions of Americans a more affordable and comprehensive option for their health coverage.”

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. 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.

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to stabilize the health insurance markets and make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. She introduced a health care affordability package that would expand access to quality, affordable health care and critical medical services, and introduced a resolution supported by every Senate Democrat directing the Trump administration to halt its efforts to strike down the Affordable Care Act in federal court.

Shaheen also 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 Trump administration sabotage efforts that have slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President 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 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.