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Congressman John Larson

Representing the 1st District of Connecticut

REPS. LARSON, HIGGINS, COURTNEY, SCOTT, O’ROURKE & POLIS ANNOUNCE HOUSE INTRODUCTION OF MEDICARE-X

October 24, 2017
Press Release
BILL EXPANDS MEDICARE TO SERVE AS A PUBLIC OPTION FOR ALL AGES

Congressmembers John Larson (CT-1) Brian Higgins (NY-26), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) and Jared Polis (CO-2) announce introduction of the House companion to the Senate Medicare-X Choice Act of 2017.  The Medicare-X Choice Act (H.R. 4094) builds upon the successful framework of the Medicare program by providing a public plan as an option on the individual and small business health exchanges.

Congressman Larson said, “Medicare X is a practical approach that uses the successful framework of the Medicare system to provide Americans with an additional, affordable coverage option.  In addition, by encouraging the use of innovative models and approaches for individuals with chronic conditions, this bill will help drive down costs and improve quality within our health care system. It’s a sensible step towards a healthier future.”

Rep. Higgins said, “For over 50 years Medicare has been an efficient and trusted healthcare option for older Americans.  Building on a system that works to make it available to more people who want it, is simply common sense.  Medicare-X adds choice and competition to the existing marketplace.”

“It is time that we consider ways to build upon the ACA by improving competition in the health care exchanges,” said Rep. Courtney.  “By harnessing the value of Medicare, we can infuse high quality, affordable insurance plans into state’s marketplaces, lowering costs and offering new options to consumers.”

Congressman Scott said, “At a time when Congress and the administration should be working to improve our current health system, the administration’s actions have undermined the Affordable Care Act and created uncertainty and confusion for American families. I am proud to join my colleagues in putting forth a plan to build on the ACA’s progress, and ensure that all Americans have greater access and more options for affordable health coverage.”

“We need a public option such as Medicare offered through the ACA to increase coverage and lower costs so every American can afford to see a doctor when they need one,” said Representative O’Rourke. “There are many paths to reach universal coverage, and our Medicare-X legislation is a step in the right direction.”

“While President Trump sabotages the Affordable Care Act, creating instability in the market, I am proud to help introduce Medicare-X in the House of Representatives, alongside Rep. Higgins. Medicare X will improve upon the Affordable Care Act by giving people more choices, and bringing down costs. It builds on the successes of Medicare by allowing individuals and small businesses to choose among existing private insurance plans and a public one. In my home district, this is especially important, where the options for rural and mountain counties are limited,” said Polis.

The Medicare-X Choice Act uses the existing health care system, and gradually reinforces it, by providing more options for the public of all ages. Medicare-X would be offered through individual and family coverage plans and the Medicare provider network would be expanded to include pediatricians, children’s hospitals and others.  The Act will ensure Essential Health Benefits like maternity, newborn care, and pediatric services are covered. The bill also allows for prescription drug negotiation through Medicare Part D.

Under the bill, premiums are put into a new, separate trust fund, holding the Medicare trust fund for individuals ages 65 and over harmless. 

Beginning in 2020, the Medicare-X plan will be available in rural areas of the country where there is only one or no health insurance providers on the exchange. The plan will also be available in counties where there is a shortage of health plan options, which have driven up costs and rendered prices simply unaffordable for the American below the age of 65. By 2023, the public option would be available on the individual market and in 2024, the plan would be an option on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange.

The Senate version of the Medicare-X Choice Act was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet (CO) and Senator Tim Kaine (VA).  Additional Senate sponsors include Senators Harris, Cortez Masto, Leahy, Cardin and Feinstein.

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