Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Colorado's Bennet, Virginia's Kaine propose Medicare-X as healthcare remedy

October 18, 2017 Updated: October 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm
0
Caption +
FILE - Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., right, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., left, rush to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 6, 2017. Both Democrats have introduced legislation to create a government-run health insurance plan that would eventually allow anyone to buy coverage under Medicare (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia, both Democrats, have introduced legislation to create a government-run health insurance plan that would eventually allow anyone to buy coverage under Medicare, the federal program that covers the elderly.

"This bill creates a true public option, which I believe we should have passed with the Affordable Care Act," Bennet said in a call with reporters.

The plan, called "Medicare-X," would be available initially in areas that lack competition - including 14 mostly rural counties in Colorado with only one insurance option - and would roll out nationwide by 2023. Participants could qualify for the same tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments available under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

"There was no reason to reinvent the wheel," Bennet said. "The plan uses exactly the same network that's open to Medicare patients today. At least the network is set up on Day One."

Although it wouldn't involve paying into the existing Medicare trust fund, participants would be able to use Medicare's network of doctors operating under already-set reimbursement rates. The plan would guarantee coverage of Obamacare-mandated essential health benefits, including maternity care and mental health. The bill would also allow the federal government to negotiate the plan's prescription drug prices along with the Medicare Part D program.

"We're in a moment still where people want to re-litigate, once again, the Affordable Care Act after trying to repeal it almost 70 times," Bennet said, adding, "This is a perfect moment for us to work in a bipartisan way to improve not just the Affordable Care Act but the American health care system."

The legislation's chances in the GOP-controlled Senate could be dim. While Bennet said he hopes Republican senators will find the proposal attractive "because it adds a choice for people," the bill's sponsors have yet to find a Republican willing to sign on. That, Bennet said, could be due to "residual concern about being painted as someone who's trying to fix rather than sabotage the Affordable Care Act."

The Medicare-X plan differs from the so-called single-payer legislation sponsored by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and dubbed "Medicare for all," which would replace existing health plans with a single national plan. About one-third of Democratic senators have signed on to support that approach.

The Bennet-Kaine bill would establish a system existing side-by-side with employer-based insurance, insurance policies sold on state and federal health care exchanges and the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Bennet stressed.

"As a country, one way or another, we need to reach a point where every American has affordable, reliable health insurance," he said. "This bill is a step in that direction."

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.