Reps. Huffman, Richmond Introduce Legislation to Open Medicare to All Americans

June 14, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), along with four co-sponsors, introduced a bill that would make Medicare available to all Americans by offering individuals the opportunity to enroll in Medicare, and allowing businesses of all sizes to purchase Medicare coverage for their employees.

“Medicare is already one of the most successful programs in our nation’s history, and the more people who can buy in, the better it will be for everyone,” said Rep. Huffman. “Our Choose Medicare Act will help lower drug costs, let millions of Americans buy into first-rate and reasonably-priced health care, and give businesses a new health insurance option for their employees.”

“Every American deserves access to affordable, quality healthcare,” said Rep. Richmond.  “Medicare is among the most popular and efficient health insurance systems in the United States. Allowing all Americans the chance to buy in to the program is a positive step towards universal coverage.”

The Choose Medicare Act would create a new Medicare program – called Medicare Part E – that would be available to everyone who is not already eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Individuals would be allowed to use their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to pay for this coverage, and businesses of all sizes would be permitted to purchase Medicare Part E for their employees as an alternative to private insurance.  Medicare Part E would cover the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits and all services covered by Medicare.

In addition to expanding access to Medicare, the Choose Medicare Act would take several other steps to increase quality, access, and affordability. The bill extends the Affordable Care Act’s ratings requirements to all markets, establishes an out of pocket maximum in traditional Medicare, and allows Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs – leveraging the bargaining power of Medicare to help lower costs to patients.

Senators Jeff Merkley (D – OR) and Chris Murphy (D – CT) first introduced the Choose Medicare Act in the Senate in April.

“Every American deserves the promise of access to a popular, affordable, high-quality health care option,” said Sen. Merkley. “Fortunately, we already have exactly such an option – and it’s called Medicare. The Choose Medicare Act creates a Medicare option for all, putting consumers and businesses in the driver’s seat on the pathway to universal health care.”

“Our bill is pretty simple. It gives every individual and every business the option to buy into Medicare if they want it, and it won’t force anyone off their private insurance. Medicare is popular, it treats patients well, and it’s cost-efficient – so if given the option, I think people will choose Medicare. For those who think that Medicare is the right plan for all Americans, this bill puts that theory to the test by letting consumers vote with their wallets,” said Sen. Murphy.