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Reps. Larson, Courtney, Higgins, & Welch Introduce Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act

February 13, 2019
Press Release
Legislation Provides Americans Age 50-64 Access to Medicare

In a news conference on Capitol Hill, Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-26), John Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), and Peter Welch (VT-AL) announced plans to introduce the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act. The legislation will expand access to Medicare to allow those aged 50-64 to buy into the highly successful and popular program, providing millions more Americans who are more likely to have pre-existing conditions and face premium increases as they near retirement with an option for affordable, quality health care.

Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) joined the Members of the House at the news conference to announce similar Senate legislation which will also give people the option of buying into Medicare at age 50.

Recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation has shown that a Medicare buy-in plan for those aged 50-64 was supported by 77% of the public, the highest level of support among any of the plans included in the survey.

“The Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act is a simple and commonsense solution that offers one path forward to strengthen our health care system. In a time where our health care system and protections for patients continue to be attacked, it is time that we focus on helping Americans obtain access to quality, affordable health care. This bill does just that. A 60 year old American could see a 40 percent savings in their premium. This legislation would strengthen patient protections and put money back in people’s pockets,” said Larson.

Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said: “Medicare has been a reliable and popular health care program for millions of Americans for more than 50 years. Despite the successes of the Affordable Care Act we are still paying too much for health care and this bill would provide the access to high-quality care offered by Medicare to a new segment of the population, improving outcomes at lower costs than we see today. This bill will create more choice for consumers, and as a result help keep down costs and help stabilize our insurance markets.”

“The American people have made it extremely clear that health care affordability is the number one issue facing their families, and they expect Congress to put forward real solutions,” said Congressman Courtney. “In crafting this proposal, we have listened to our constituents, many of whom are over age 50 and facing premiums that easily reach over a thousand dollars per month.  The Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act provides an additional option for the higher cost consumers who are bearing the brunt of rising premiums, restores the market stabilizing policies that Republicans have undermined in recent years, and equips the Department of Health and Human Services with new tools to drive down prescription costs for seniors. By offering this new population the option to buy into Medicare, this bill would provide an additional, well-respected option to those struggling to afford premiums today.”

“This is a practical and common sense way to provide Americans approaching retirement with quality affordable health care,” said Rep. Welch. “I am particularly pleased that this bill includes my legislation to require the federal government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices for seniors. It’s absurd that Medicare is buying drugs at wholesale but paying retail prices.”

Additional original cosponsors of the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act include Representatives: Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Denny Heck (WA-10), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Dina Titus (NV-01), Paul Tonko (NY-20), and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07).

The Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act

Medicare Buy-In for those Age 50-64, how it works:

  • Participants purchase Medicare coverage (Part A, B, and D, or a Medicare Advantage plan) at-cost, keeping the program budget neutral
  • Plans are offered on the exchanges, providing opportunity for comparison-shopping
  • Those eligible for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions could apply them towards their buy-in premium
  • A public Medigap option is created for all Medicare beneficiaries to ensure enrollees are able to access and afford all the benefits they need
  • Authorizes HHS to negotiate volume discounts on prescription drugs to achieve even greater savings in the system to the benefit of all Medicare beneficiaries

The Medicare and Medicaid programs were first implemented in 1965 through the Social Security Act. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 59 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare in 2018.