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Choose Medicare Act would move us a step closer to universal healthcare

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A group of four congressional Democrats, including Northern Virginia Congressman Don Beyer, has introduced a bill called the Choose Medicare Act, which is envisioned as moving us closer to universal healthcare.

“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 healthcare,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said.

Bad news: this Choose Medicare Act has no chance of making its way through Congress this year, not with the House, with a 217-213 Republican majority, unable to get past Marjorie Taylor Greene trying to overthrow whoever the House Speaker is at the moment, and the Senate, with a 51-49 Democrat majority, focused on preserving its filibuster over doing anything substantive for everyday Americans.

But anyway, universal healthcare is where we need things to eventually end up, so that people don’t have to go bankrupt because they get sick or in a car accident.

“Allowing employers and the general public the option to choose Medicare would fill many of the gaps in our healthcare system, get more people covered, and make the nation healthier,” said Beyer, who represents the Eighth District, based in Northern Virginia, in the House. “Every American should be able to access affordable, quality healthcare, and this bill represents the kind of bold action required to make that a reality for all.”

The Choose Medicare Act would work by opening up Medicare to all Americans with a new Part E that 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.

Other provisions:

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

“No one should have to live in fear of getting sick and going bankrupt because they don’t have health coverage,” said California Congressman Jimmy Gomez, another of the bill’s authors. “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. The Choose Medicare Act brings us one step closer to achieving universal coverage and a healthier and more just future for all of us.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].