Durbin Joins Colleagues To Reintroduce Medicare-X To Provide Low-Cost, High-Quality Insurance To Every American

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) today to reintroduce legislation to create Medicare-X, a public health care plan that would offer families, individuals, and small businesses additional, low-cost health insurance choices and create more competition in the marketplace.  The Medicare-X Choice Act of 2019 would further lower premiums and increase coverage for consumers and those in the individual market who opted into the plan.

“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 and that we must do more to increase competition and lower health care costs for people nationwide,” 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 affordable, quality health care for all.”

Despite the success of the Affordable Care Act, too many Americans still live in areas with limited competition and unaffordable health care costs.  In 2019, 17 percent of those enrolled on the exchanges lived in an area with just one insurer.

The plan would build on the Medicare framework to establish a public insurance option.  Medicare-X initially would be available on the individual exchange in areas where there is a shortage of insurers or higher health care costs due to less competition.  By 2024, Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country.  By 2025, the public plan would be added as another option on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

Medicare-X would use Medicare’s network of doctors and providers and guarantee the essential health benefits established in the ACA, such as maternity care and mental health services.  Additionally, it would ensure access to affordable prescription drugs by offering prices negotiated in conjunction with the Medicare Part D program.

The legislation includes several key updates to further lower costs and increase coverage.  It eliminates the subsidy cliff for Americans above 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), ultimately ensuring individuals do not pay more than 13 percent of their income toward their premium for a benchmark plan.  It also increases the tax credit for individuals below 400 percent FPL, creates a national reinsurance program to bring down premiums, and establishes a grant program to integrate social needs in the delivery of health care services.

In addition to Durbin, Bennet, and Kaine, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

The bill text is available here. A summary is available here.