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Durbin, Duckworth, colleagues reintroduce Medicare at 50 Act

WASHINGTON – Two Democratic senators from Illinois are going after Medicare at age 50.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth (shown) joined three of their colleagues  on Friday to reintroduce the Medicare at 50 Act. The bill would give people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old the option of buying into Medicare, while ensuring the program is protected for current Medicare beneficiaries. Currently the age for eligibility is 65.

Millions of Americans approaching retirement or forced to retire early due to layoffs or mandatory retirement face increasing health care needs and rising costs, the senators said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of a strong and accessible health care system for all Americans,” said Durbin. “With the Medicare at 50 Act, we can give people the choice to participate in Medicare, while safeguarding the program and lowering costs for today’s seniors. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to expand quality health care access, an important step forward in our shared goal of health care for all.”

“All Americans deserve high-quality health coverage, and expanding Medicare access to those 50 years old and above would give millions the opportunity to get covered while also protecting and strengthening Medicare for our seniors,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in cosponsoring the Medicare at 50 Act to help ensure we’re making health care more accessible and affordable for all.”

The other senators who joined in introducing are Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. At least a dozen others, all Democrats, are cosponsors.

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 percent 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.

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