Gomez, Merkley, Murphy, Beyer Lead Bicameral Action to Let Every American Choose Medicare

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), U.S. Representative Donald Beyer (D-VA-8), Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, and Connecticut’s U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy today led their colleagues in introducing the Choose Medicare Act. This legislation opens up Medicare to all Americans with a new ‘Part E’ and builds on the system we have today. By allowing Medicare to compete with private health insurance, Medicare Part E puts consumers and businesses in the driver’s seat on the road to universal health care. 

“No one should have to live in fear of getting sick and going bankrupt because they don’t have health coverage. Everyone in America should have the care they need at a price they can afford, and our legislation allows every American the option to join Medicare—our nation’s most popular health insurance system," said Rep. Gomez. "The Choose Medicare Act brings us one step closer to achieving universal coverage and a healthier and more just future for all of us."  

“Simply put, our bill would give all Americans access to Medicare, one the most popular and successful health care delivery programs in history,” said Rep. Beyer. “Allowing employers and the general public the option to choose Medicare would fill many of the gaps in our health care system, get more people covered, and make the nation healthier. Every American should be able to access affordable, quality health care, and this bill represents the kind of bold action required to make that a reality for all.” 

“In the richest country in the world, no person should have to worry about whether they’ll be able to afford care if they become sick or get into an accident. That means every American needs high-quality, affordable health care,” said Sen. Merkley. “Luckily, we already have an effective, popular solution: Medicare. It's time we prioritize placing consumers and businesses at the forefront on the path towards universal healthcare by offering every American the opportunity to obtain coverage through this program.” 

“Medicare delivers the best health care at the lowest cost, and we should give it the opportunity to compete with private insurance. Our legislation would give every American and business the option to decide if Medicare is right for them. It would also give millions more people access to the huge savings on drug prices and premiums secured in the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill is a simple way to increase competition and bring us closer to affordable health care coverage for all,” said Sen. Murphy. 

The Choose Medicare Act creates Medicare Part E to empower consumers with choice for their health care coverage, paving the way for America to be on the path towards universal coverage and serving as a crucial steppingstone towards achieving Medicare for All. Senator Merkley has consistently advocated for strengthening and expanding access to Medicare—the program that is consistently rated the most popular and efficient health insurance system in the United States—including cosponsoring and advocating for Medicare for All. 

The Choose Medicare Act is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL). The bill is supported by Families USA, MoveOn, American Federation of Teachers, and the Center for Medicare Advocacy. 

"As health care costs continue to rise, millions of consumers still grapple with affording health insurance and the care they need to keep their families healthy. The Choose Medicare Act, introduced by Senators Merkley and Murphy, is an important effort that creates a new pathway to make Medicare accessible to more consumers and employers, and makes important improvements to the current program like coverage of all reproductive health and essential health benefits," said Jane Sheehan, Deputy Senior Director of Government Relations for Families USA. 

“The Choose Medicare Act would improve the existing Medicare program, including adding a greatly needed out-of-pocket cap in traditional Medicare,” said Judith Stein, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “The bill would also enhance the ability of people currently ineligible for Medicare to enjoy the benefits of traditional Medicare, without the restrictions of limited provider networks.” 

Medicare Part E aims to be self-sustaining, fully paid for by premiums, and offered on all state and federal exchanges, giving people the ability to use 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 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 ACA’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-of-pocket maximum in traditional Medicare. 
  • Increases the generosity of premium tax credits and extends eligibility to all earners.   
  • Directs Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs by incorporating the drug price negotiation section of the Inflation Reduction Act.  
  • Drives down private insurance premiums through competition from Medicare by allowing the HHS Secretary to block excessive private insurance rates.  
  • Extends traditional Medicare protections on balance billing or surprise bills to Part E plans. 

A summary of the bill is available here


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