Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Medicare At 50 Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today joined Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to introduce the Medicare at 50 Act to give people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old the option of buying into Medicare.  Millions of Americans who are approaching retirement or are being forced to retire early due to layoffs or mandatory retirement face increasing health care needs and rising costs.  This legislation would ensure that more Americans have the option of participating in the Medicare program, while also protecting the program for today’s seniors.  The legislation establishes a new insurance pool for those ages 50-64 while keeping Medicare funding for existing seniors separate.

“This boils down to whether you believe health care is a privilege for the wealthy and healthy few, or a right for everyone.  I believe it's a right for all Americans,” Durbin said.  “By giving more Americans the choice to participate in Medicare, while simultaneously safeguarding the program for today’s seniors, this bill represents an important next step toward our shared goal of health care for all.”

“Allowing older Americans the option to voluntarily buy into Medicare as they approach retirement age would help lower costs, expand access and increase competition,” Duckworth said.  “I’m proud to support this legislation that strengthens Medicare and builds on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act toward making healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Allowing more Americans to buy into Medicare has the potential to lower their costs, reinforce the existing Medicare program, and strengthen the existing health insurance marketplace.  Recent polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that 77 percent of the public supports giving people between the ages of 50 and 64 the option to buy Medicare.

Today, 27 percent of adults approaching retirement are not confident that they can afford health insurance over the next year, and more than a quarter have issues navigating health insurance options, coverage decisions, and out-of-pocket costs.  Many did not get the care they needed because of how much it would cost, or kept a job or delayed retirement to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Along with Durbin, Duckworth, and Stabenow, the following Senators also cosponsored the Medicare at 50 Act: U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).