Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have proposed a new bill that would expand Medicare. The bill is called the Choose Medicare Act, and it proposes a new branch of Medicare: Medicare Part E. This would be a new and enhanced version of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) available to individuals buying their own coverage and employers who offer coverage to employees.
Medicare Part E would:
- finance itself with premiums and copays
- offer lower prices for medical items and services
- provide recipients with the efficiency of Medicare
- limit out-of-pocket spending
- include pediatric services
The bill would also affect Original Medicare by putting a cap on out-of-pocket spending.
Other attempts to expand Medicare
Merkley and Murphy are not the first to attempt a Medicare expansion. In September, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proposed a bill which would gradually expand Medicare coverage to all Americans. This Medicare-for-all bill garnered 16 co-sponsors, which is a huge improvement from his first attempt which garnered no co-sponsors.
According to Murphy, the Choose Medicare bill is intended to gauge what people want from the American healthcare system. They believe that is single-payer healthcare. For the Senators, a Medicare buy-in program like this is less a question of if and more a question of when.