Higgins Offers Amendment to Advance Medicare At 50
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, offered an amendment today at a Ways and Means hearing that would commission a Health and Human Services Department (HHS) study on a Medicare Buy-In option for Americans aged 50-64. The amendment would direct the Secretary of HHS to submit a report to Congress detailing the agency’s authority to expand Medicare and the impact it would have on affordability, premiums, and out of pocket costs.
In the Committee’s markup, Ways and Means Republicans voted down the amendment that would study expanding Medicare to an additional 60 million Americans, many of whom live with pre-existing conditions. Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 77% of Americans support the idea, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. The need for such an option is increasingly apparent as Republicans continue their sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, resulting in destabilizing insurance markets and significant premium increases.
Congressman Higgins, with Representatives John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), and Peter Welch (VT-at large), have previously introduced H.R. 3748, the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act. The legislation would expand access to Medicare, giving those aged 50-64 the option to buy-in to the Medicare program, and has 49 Cosponsors in the House.
At the hearing, Congressman Higgins stated: "The 50-64 demographic, of which there are 60 million in America, will get hammered with massive premium increases and no pre-existing patient protection. We need to do something to try to help this demographic."
"When you look at the success of Medicare and what it did in 1965, it provided insurance coverage for older Americans that private insurers didn’t want to cover, because they’re older, statistically sicker, and more expensive. This 50-64 demographic is today what the traditional Medicare population was prior to 1965. I think we have a moral obligation to protect this demographic and it’s very important that we take decisive action."
Congressman John Larson (CT-1), who is an original cosponsor of H.R. 3748, stated at the hearing: “Health care premiums are on the rise right now because of the Republican tax law and the Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Instead of attacking protections for those with pre-existing conditions and peddling junk insurance plans, let’s focus on a commonsense solution by allowing Americans ages 50-64 years old to buy into Medicare. Studies have shown that a 60 year old American could save nearly 40 percent in premiums with a buy-in. Instead of battling one another, Congress must lead the way and focus on actual solutions.”
The full text of the amendment can be read here.