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

Apr 27, 2021
Press Release
Legislation Makes Medicare an Option for Americans Age 50-64

Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-26), John Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), and Peter Welch (VT-AL) announced introduction of the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act. The legislation allows Americans to buy into Medicare early, between the ages of 50-64.

“For more than 50 years, Medicare has been a lifeline to affordable, quality healthcare for seniors and we should take the opportunity to build on its success,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. “This legislation adds choice and competition into the health insurance marketplace for a population traditionally forced to pay higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays.” 

“Medicare is one of our nation’s most trusted programs. Allowing 50 to 64 year old Americans to buy in to Medicare will strengthen the program and lower premiums for Americans across the country. This bill will also make permanent the health care subsidies from the American Rescue Plan that that will provide enormous savings to thousands of Connecticut residents. As we work to achieve affordable, universal health care, this legislation would be a significant step forward,” said Congressman Larson.

“It's clearer than ever before that the strength of our communities and our economy relies on access to quality, affordable health care,” said Rep. Courtney. “Congress needs to come together to find a sensible path forward to ensure that all Americans, especially aging and older Americans, have high-quality options to choose from at their disposal, and that’s exactly what the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act offers—more quality options, more choice and freedom in the marketplace, and provisions that will help tamp down costs in the public and private health care markets. The American people have been saying loud and clear for years that we need to work together to improve upon the ACA, not butcher it, and our bill would provide relief for the higher-cost, older population in the individual and small business marketplaces who are really facing the sharpest premium spikes, simply by giving them more choice. This bill will reduce health care spending, provide older Americans with more choices and freedom in health care coverage, and will save money for American taxpayers, and I’m looking forward to advancing it towards a vote in the House this year.”

“This is a practical and common sense way to provide Americans approaching retirement with quality, affordable health care,” said Rep. Welch. “Allowing Americans older than 50 to buy in to this popular program will lead to better health outcomes and lower bills for millions of Americans.”

Prior to the enactment of legislation establishing Medicare in 1965, over half of Americans over the age of 65 didn’t have health insurance. Today Medicare provides health coverage for over 54.5 million Americans ages 65 and older.

The Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act expands on the success and popularity of the Medicare program by allowing Americans age 50-64, who are more likely to face pre-existing conditions and premium increases, to purchase Medicare coverage with no effect on the Medicare Trust Fund. Additionally, to provide Americans with the best price and allow for comparison shopping, the plans would be offered on the health care exchange.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 77% of Americans support policy allowing people between the ages of 50 and 64 to buy insurance through the Medicare program.  An estimated 73% of Americans ages 45-54 and 86% of Americans ages 55-64 have a pre-existing condition, as defined by health insurers. 

The legislation would also make permanent the expansion of premium tax credits, included in the American Rescue Plan, to help improve the affordability of insurance plans on the ACA marketplace. 

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Tammy Baldwin (WI).