Neguse, Jayapal, Lamb, Golden Lead Over 80 Lawmakers in Effort To Expand Medicare in The American Families Plan

April 26, 2021
Press Release
Lawmakers sent a letter today to the Biden Administration with specific asks for expanding Medicare

Washington D.C.— Today, Representatives Joe Neguse, Pramila Jayapal, Conor Lamb and Jared Golden led an ideologically diverse group of over 80 lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden calling for him to expand Medicare through the American Families Plan. Specifically the letter calls for the Administration to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age, improving Medicare benefits to include dental, vision, hearing, and an out-of-pocket cap and empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans to help pay for the expansion. 

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever we must ensure that families and older adults are equipped with adequate health care coverage,” said Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02). “Lowering the eligibility age for Medicare and improving the program’s benefits package would provide immediate and substantial relief for millions of individuals throughout the United States. With the introduction of the American Families Plan, we have a historic opportunity to expand Medicare. We implore the Administration to include these critical provisions in their plan to support American families and provide long-term security for the future.”

“Voters delivered us governing majorities and now we must deliver for them on health care policies that are not only urgent but wildly popular,” said Congresswoman Jayapal (WA-07). “We must immediately lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of all Americans and use the massive savings from this to lower Medicare’s eligibility age and improve its benefits. Members from across the Democratic Caucus are joining forces on this key priority because it is urgent, necessary, and has the support of large bipartisan majorities of the American people who agree that we must finally invest in the health of people across this country.”

“Medicare works for millions of seniors.  Unfortunately, many more who are close to the eligibility have lost jobs or affordable coverage, and their wait for Medicare is too long.  We must find a way to let these people enjoy the Medicare benefits they’ve earned with years of hard work,” said Congressman Conor Lamb (PA-17).

“I have heard many times from Mainers in the second district that the only thing standing between them and retirement is the need for healthcare coverage. Many others have told me that late in their working years, one of their greatest fears is the loss of health insurance due to losing their job,” said Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02).“Lowering the Medicare age to 60 would immediately make healthcare accessible and affordable for tens of thousands of Mainers. I’m pushing the Biden administration to make this important change to the Medicare eligibility age, and to expand the program to cover vision, dental, and hearing care for all Medicare beneficiaries, because it would have a significant, positive impact on so many of my constituents' lives.”  

According to a recent Gallup poll, 65 percent of Americans, across party lines, are in favor of lowering the Medicare eligibility age. Another poll found that 79 percent of polled older voters want a routine dental, vision and hearing benefit added to Medicare. 

Lowering the Medicare age would provide immediate coverage for millions of older adults who are still uninsured or underinsured. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 could enable an additional 23 million people to access Medicare coverage. Meanwhile lowering the Medicare eligibility to 55 could expand Medicare coverage to over 40 million people. There is also a critical need to improve the traditional Medicare benefit to include dental, vision, and hearing. Poor oral health, vision loss, and hearing impairment have been independently linked to numerous negative health outcomes, such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, depression and dementia. Research also shows that half of older adults who live alone don’t have enough money to cover even their basic needs. 

The third request from the lawmakers letter, to empower Medicare to negotiate drug costs with pharmaceutical companies would not only lower the cost of prescription drugs for consumers, but help pay for a Medicare expansion. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Medicare could save over $450 billion and increase revenue by $45 billion over the next decade by requiring Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. In today’s letter, the lawmakers request that the savings achieved by robust Medicare drug-price negotiations be used to make critical expansions and improvements to Medicare, alongside other bold investments in health coverage and affordability.

In addition to Neguse, Jayapal, Golden and Lamb, the letter is signed by Representatives Barragán, Bass, Beyer Jr, Blumenauer, Bonamici, Bordeaux, Bowman, Bush, Carson, Cicilline, Clarke, Cohen, Crow, Dean, DeFazio, DeGette, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Dingell, Doggett, Escobar, Espaillat, Evans, Gallego, Sylvia Garcia, Chuy García, Gomez, Grijalva, Hayes, Horsford, Jackson Lee, Jacobs, Jeffries, Johnson, Jones, Kahele, Khanna, Kirkpatrick, Lawrence, Lee, Leger Fernández, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Maloney, Manning, McCollum, Meng, Nadler, Newman, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Panetta, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Raskin, San Nicholas, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Slotkin, Smith, Soto, Stevens, Takano, Tlaib, Ritchie Torres, Norma Torres, Trahan, Vargas, Velázquez, Wasserman Schultz, Watson Coleman, Wild, Williams, Wilson and Yarmuth.