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Senators Baldwin, Stabenow, and Brown Introduce Medicare at 50 Act

Majority of Americans Support Medicare at 50, Which Would Lower the Cost of Care for Older Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today reintroduced 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 approaching retirement or forced to retire early due to layoffs or mandatory retirement face increasing health care needs and rising costs.

“When it comes to providing affordable health care for every American, there is more we must do right now to change the status quo, improve our health care system and lower costs,” said Senator Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Our legislation will give millions of Americans another choice for more affordable, quality health insurance coverage. This reform will provide a high quality option for people to buy into Medicare and get the health care coverage they need at a price they can afford.”

“If you’re between the age of 50 and 65 and are laid off or forced into early retirement, finding health coverage can be expensive and challenging. Lowering the Medicare age to 50 will give Americans more options. This is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis, when more and more families are facing increased health care expenses without health insurance,” said Senator Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Health Care Subcommittee.

“Lowering the Medicare eligibility age will give more Ohioans and people across the country another trusted option for quality health care. This is a step in the right direction to help millions of people, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and get us closer to making sure everyone has healthcare coverage,” said Senator Brown.

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. 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% 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.

“Citizen Action of Wisconsin is proud to stand with Senator Baldwin in support of lowering Medicare eligibility to 50 years of age,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Two-thirds of Wisconsinites worry about affording medical costs as they age and about being able to afford private health insurance. Furthermore, as people age and acquire pre-existing conditions, Medicare is a much better health coverage option than for-profit health insurance. The Medicare at 50 Act would give many thousands of Wisconsinites peace of mind through the option to receive high-quality, affordable health coverage from a program that over one million people in our state already use.”

Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) are also cosponsoring the Medicare at 50 Act.