Bills Aim To Expand Medicare Eligibility To Reduce Uninsured
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) on Wednesday introduced companion bills (S 1218 and H 2034) that would allow U.S. residents younger than age 65 to enroll in Medicare, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Under the "Medicare for All" bill, residents would be eligible to enroll in Medicare or any of the health insurance plans offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, or they could continue to receive coverage under private plans. The legislation would shift the cost of coverage to the federal government, which would increase federal spending by about $600 billion annually.
Kennedy and Dingell said payroll taxes and general revenue would cover the costs of the proposal.
According to a summary of the proposal, "A preliminary estimate of the payroll tax financing necessary will be a payment of 7% of payroll by businesses and 1.7% by workers." Kennedy and Dingell said their plan would save $308 billion annually in administrative costs (CQ HealthBeat, 4/25).
However, the lawmakers "acknowledged that the measure does not yet have enough support for consideration in either chamber," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 4/25).
Kennedy said, "The best plan for the nation is to build on a program that all Americans know and respect by creating Medicare for all."
Dingell added, "Not only will covering all Americans improve millions of lives, it will actually save money by reducing emergency room costs and increasing access to preventive services and earlier treatments" (CQ HealthBeat, 4/25).
ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday featured an interview with ABC medical editor Tim Johnson on the Kennedy-Dingell proposal (Roberts, "Good Morning America," ABC, 4/26).
Audio of the segment is available online.