WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) on Tuesday joined U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and U.S. Representatives Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Donald Beyer (D-Va.) in introducing the Choose Medicare Act. This legislation gives every individual who is not already eligible for Medicaid or Medicare the opportunity to enroll in Medicare as an individual and gives every employer the ability to purchase Medicare for their employees.

“Medicare delivers the best health care at the lowest cost, and we should give it the opportunity to compete with private insurance. Our legislation would give every American and business the option to decide if Medicare is right for them. It would also give millions more people access to the huge savings on drug prices and premiums secured in the Inflation Reduction Act. This bill is a simple way to increase competition and bring us closer to affordable health care coverage for all,” said Murphy.

“Affordable and accessible health care should be a right for all, not a luxury reserved for some,” said Blumenthal. “This critical legislation will ensure patients across the nation can access Medicare coverage, helping them avoid costly plans and expensive out-of-pocket costs. I will keep fighting for legislation that expands access to affordable health care coverage, bringing us one step closer to universal health care.”

“In the richest country in the world, no person should have to worry about whether they’ll be able to afford care if they become sick or get into an accident. That means every American needs high-quality, affordable health care,” said Merkley. “Luckily, we already have an effective, popular solution: Medicare. It's time we prioritize placing consumers and businesses at the forefront on the path towards universal healthcare by offering every American the opportunity to obtain coverage through this program.”

“No one should have to live in fear of getting sick and going bankrupt because they don’t have health coverage. Everyone in America should have the care they need at a price they can afford, and our legislation allows every American the option to join Medicare—our nation’s most popular health insurance system," said Gomez. "The Choose Medicare Act brings us one step closer to achieving universal coverage and a healthier and more just future for all of us."

“Simply put, our bill would give all Americans access to Medicare, one the most popular and successful health care delivery programs in history,” said Beyer. “Allowing employers and the general public the option to choose Medicare would fill many of the gaps in our health care system, get more people covered, and make the nation healthier. Every American should be able to access affordable, quality health care, and this bill represents the kind of bold action required to make that a reality for all.”

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) also cosponsored the bill. The legislation is supported by Families USA, MoveOn, American Federation of Teachers, and the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

Medicare is consistently rated the most popular and efficient health insurance system in the United States. The new plan, Medicare Part E, would be self-sustaining and fully paid for by premiums. Medicare Part E would be offered on all state and federal exchanges, and people could use the existing Affordable Care Act subsidies to help pay for it.  Additionally, employers could choose to select Medicare Part E rather than private insurance to provide affordable and reliable health care to their employees.

The Choose Medicare Act:

Increases Access, Competition, and Choice 

  1. Opens Medicare to employers of all sizes and allows them to purchase high-quality, affordable health care for their employees without requiring replacement of employment-based health insurance.
  2. Addresses the discrepancy between consumer protections in the individual and group markets by extending the ACA’s rating requirements to all markets, to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions once and for all.

Provides Comprehensive Coverage

  1. Includes the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits and all items and services covered by Medicare.
  2. Provides high-quality, gold-level coverage and cost-sharing.? 
  3. Ensures coverage for all reproductive services including abortion. 

Improves Affordability

  1. Establishes an out-of-pocket maximum in traditional Medicare.
  2. Increases the generosity of premium tax credits and extends eligibility to all earners.? 
  3. Directs Medicare to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs by incorporating the drug price negotiation section of the Inflation Reduction Act. 
  4. Drives down private insurance premiums through competition from Medicare by allowing the HHS Secretary to block excessive private insurance rates. 
  5. Extends traditional Medicare protections on balance billing or surprise bills to Part E plans.

A summary of the bill is available HERE.