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The Choose Medicare Act: Medicare’s Future?

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.

The details

The goal is to gradually absorb most working-age Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid. This system would more closely resemble the universal healthcare systems of other developed countries.

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.

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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.

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