A group of 17 Senate Democrats led by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called on President Joe Biden to support a Medicare expansion, Politico reports.
The group called on Biden to include the expansion in his American Families Plan proposal, Biden’s spending plan that includes paid family leave, national child care, tuition-free community college and other spending programs.
“We write to ask that, as part of the American Families Plan, you propose reducing the Medicare eligibility age, expanding Medicare benefits to include hearing, dental, and vision care, implementing a cap on out-of-pocket expenses under traditional Medicare, and negotiating lower drug prices,” the letter said.
"We have an historic opportunity to make the most significant expansion of Medicare since it was signed into law. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality and, in the process, substantially improve the lives of millions of older Americans and persons with disabilities," urged the group, which also included Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Move could expand coverage to millions:
The senators did not specify an age they want Medicare to kick in but noted that lowering the age would expand Medicare coverage to tens of millions.
Lowering the age from 65 to 60 would expand Medicare eligibility to 23 million, including 2 million uninsured, the senators said.
Lowering the age to 55 would add over 42 million Americans to the Medicare rolls while lowering it further to 50 would cover an additional 63 million Americans.
More coverage areas:
The senators also called on Biden to improve the existing Medicare benefit, noting that hearing aids are prohibitively expensive for Medicare beneficiaries.
“No senior citizen in America should be isolated from their families and the communities in which they live simply because they cannot afford hearing care,” the letter said.
The letter also called on the administration to address the country’s “dental crisis,” noting that over 70% of seniors have no dental coverage, and expand vision coverage to address rising costs.
“At a time when half of senior citizens are trying to survive on less than $2,200 a month, we should also apply an out-of-pocket spending limit to traditional Medicare, as we have for Medicare Advantage plans and other private insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act,” they added.