70% of Democratic House caucus calls on White House to expand Medicare by lowering age of eligibility, improving benefits and lowering the price of prescription drugs
WASHINGTON – More than 155 moderates, progressives and leaders of the House Democratic caucus united today to urge President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to keep their campaign pledge to expand and improve Medicare in the part of the American plan for families. It would be the biggest health care expansion in the country since the Affordable Care Act was signed. The effort was led by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jared Golden (ME-02), Joe Neguse (CO-02) and Conor Lamb (PA-17).
The letter – which is signed by 70 percent of the House Democratic caucus, including moderates, progressives and more than a dozen pioneers in the country’s most competitive districts – calls on the White House to:
- Expand Medicare by lowering the age of eligibility, allowing at least 23 million more people to access the very popular program
- Improve Medicare Benefits To Finally Cover Dental, Vision And Hearing, that almost 80% of older voters want to add to the program
- Lowering the record price of prescription drugs empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans, saving more than $ 450 billion over the next decade
“We ask you to prioritize the expansion and improvement of Medicare in the US plan for families,” wrote the 156 lawmakers. âLowering the age of Medicare eligibility and improving its benefits would bring immediate and substantial relief to millions of people across the United States, along with much-needed long-term security.â
President Biden and Vice President Harris have already pledged to expand Medicare. Beyond Democratic Party support, Medicare expansion is popular across the country with the support of overwhelming bipartisan majorities. A Gallup poll found that 65% of Americans – from all parties – support lowering the eligibility age. Another recent poll found that a majority of Americans in every state supported the proposal. Even a majority of people who voted for Donald Trump support the expansion of Medicare.
Lowering the age of eligibility would provide immediate coverage to millions of seniors who are still uninsured or underinsured. Lowering the age of eligibility to 60 could allow an additional 23 million people to access Medicare. Additionally, lowering the age to 55 would extend Medicare coverage to over 40 million people. The expansion of Medicare – which has the largest provider network in the country and is one of the most affordable health insurance programs – is also key to addressing inequalities in health coverage, with communities of color being much more likely to be uninsured.
Improving Medicare benefits to finally include dental, vision and hearing care while adding a personal spending limit would also have an immediate impact on the lives of millions of people. At least 75% of Medicare beneficiaries who need a hearing aid do not have one, 70% of beneficiaries have not been to the dentist in the past year and almost half have not had one. eye exam within the past year. Poor oral health, vision loss, and hearing loss have been independently linked to many negative health outcomes, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, and dementia.
Lawmakers also urged the White House to empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans at a time when the United States currently spends more on prescription drugs than any country in the world. This would not only reduce the sky-high prescription drug prices, but also help fund Medicare expansion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates Medicare could save more than $ 450 billion and increase revenues by $ 45 billion over the next decade by forcing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. These savings could be used to make needed Medicare extensions and improvements while making bold investments in health coverage and accessibility.
Today’s letter follows a similar call from nearly 20 senators who urged the White House to expand and improve Medicare as part of the U.S. plan for families. Nearly 50 local, state and national organizations also sent a letter to the Biden administration urging them to do the same.
The letter is signed by more than a dozen Democrats running in some of the country’s toughest districts, including Representatives Axne, Bourdeaux, CÃ¡rdenas, Craig, Crow, DeFazio, Hayes, Horsford, Kim, Malinowski, McBath, Porter, Slotkin, Stevens and Wild.
It was also signed by Representatives Adams, Aguilar, BarragÃ¡n, Bass, Bernice Johnson, Beyer Jr., Blumenauer, Bonamici, Bowman Ed.D, Brown, Brownley, Bush, Carbajal, Carson, Carter Sr., Castro, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Clarke, Cleaver II, Cohen, Connolly, Correa, Courtney, Dean, DeGette, DeLauro, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Escobar, Espaillat, Evans, Frankel, Gallego, Garcia (IL), GarcÃa ( TX), Gomez, Green, Grijalva, Higgins, Houlahan, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jacobs, Jeffries, Johnson (GA), Jones, Kahele, Kaptur, Keating, Kelly, Khanna, Kildee, Kilmer, Kirkpatrick, Krishnamoorthi, Kuster, Langevin , Larsen, Larson, Lawrence, Lawson, Lee (CA), Leger FernÃ¡ndez, Levin (MI), Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Lynch, Maloney, Manning, Matsui, McCollum, McEachin, McGovern, McNerney, Meeks, Meng, Mfume, Moore, Morelle, Moulton, Nadler, Napolitano, Newman, Norcros, Norton, Ocasio Cortez, Omar, Panetta, Payne, Jr., Perlmutter, Phillips, Pingree, Pocan, Pressley, Quigley, Raskin, R oybal-Allard, Ruppersberger, Rush, Ryan, San Nicolas, SÃ¡nchez, Sarbanes, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott, Sewell, Sherman, Smith (WA), Soto, Strickland, Suozzi, Swalwell, Takano, Thompson (CA), Titus , Tlaib, Tonko, Torres (CA), Torres (NY), Trahan, Trone, Vargas, VelÃ¡zquez, Wasserman Schultz, Watson Coleman, Wexton, Williams, Wilson and Yarmuth.
The text of the letter is available here.