May 27, 2021

Congressman Neguse Builds Broad Coalition Urging Biden to Expand Medicare in the American Families Plan

His effort now has the support of 70 percent of the House Democratic Caucus

Washington D.C.— Congressman Neguse has gained the support of more than 155 moderates, progressives, and frontliners from across the House Democratic caucus in urging President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to keep their campaign promise to expand and improve Medicare as part of the American Families Plan. This would be the nation’s largest expansion of health care since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Along with Congressman Joe Neguse, the effort is also led by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jared Golden (ME-02), and Connor Lamb (PA-17).

The letter — signed by 70 percent of the House Democratic Caucus including moderates, progressives, and more than one dozen frontliners running in the most competitive districts across the country — calls on the White House to:

  • Expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age, enabling at least 23 million additional people to access the wildly popular program

  • Improve Medicare benefits to finally cover dental, vision, and hearing, which nearly 80 percent of older voters want added to the program

  • Lower the record breaking price of prescription drugs by empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans, saving more than $450 billion over the next decade

“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.”

President Biden and Vice President Harris have previously expressed commitments to expanding Medicare. Beyond being supported across the Democratic party, expanding Medicare is popular throughout the country with support from overwhelming bipartisan majorities. A Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Americans — across party lines — are in favor of lowering the eligibility age. Another recent poll found that a majority of Americans in every single state support the proposal. Even a majority of people who cast their votes for Donald Trump back expanding Medicare.

Lowering the eligibility age would provide immediate coverage for millions of older adults who are still uninsured or underinsured. Dropping the eligibility age to 60 could allow an additional 23 million people to access Medicare. Additionally, lowering the age to 55 would expand Medicare coverage to more than 40 million people. Expanding Medicare — which has the largest network of providers in the country and is one of the most affordable health insurance programs — is also critical to addressing inequities in health coverage with communities of color disproportionately more likely to be uninsured.

Improving Medicare’s benefits to finally include dental, vision, and hearing while adding an out-of-pocket spending cap would also have an immediate life changing impact for millions of people. At least 75 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who need a hearing aid do not have one, 70 percent of beneficiaries did not go to the dentist in the past year, and nearly half did not have an eye exam in the past year. 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. 

The lawmakers also urged the White House to empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all Americans at a time in which the United States currently spends more on prescription drugs than any country in the world. This would not only lower the sky-high price of prescription drugs but also help pay for expanding Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare could save over $450 billion and increase revenue by $45 billion over the next decade by requiring Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. This savings could be used to make necessary expansions and improvements to Medicare while making bold investments in health coverage and affordability. 

Today’s letter follows a similar call by nearly 20 Senators who urged the White House to expand and improve Medicare as part of the American Families Plan. Nearly 50 local, state, and national organizations have also sent a letter to the Biden Administration calling on them to do the same. 

The letter is signed by more than one dozen Democrats who are running in some of the toughest districts in the country including Representatives Axne, Bourdeaux, Cárdenas, Craig, Crow, DeFazio, Hayes, Horsford, Kim, Malinowski, McBath, Porter, Slotkin, Stevens, and Wild.  

It was also signed by Representatives Adams, Aguilar, Barragán, Bass, Bernice Johnson, Beyer Jr., Blumenauer, Bonamici, Bowman Ed.D, Brown, Brownley, Bush, Carbajal, Carson, Carter Sr., Castro, Chu, Cicilline, Clark, Clarke, Cleaver II, Cohen, Connolly, Correa, Courtney, Dean, DeGette, DeLauro, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Escobar, Espaillat, Evans, Frankel, Gallego, Garcia (IL), García (TX), Gomez, Green, Grijalva, Higgins, Houlahan, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jacobs, Jeffries, Johnson (GA), Jones, Kahele, Kaptur, Keating, Kelly, Khanna, Kildee, Kilmer, Kirkpatrick, Krishnamoorthi, Kuster, Langevin, Larsen, Larson, Lawrence, Lawson, Lee (CA),Leger Fernández, Levin (MI), Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Lynch, Maloney, Manning, Matsui, McCollum,  McEachin, McGovern, McNerney, Meeks, Meng, Mfume, Moore, Morelle, Moulton, Nadler, Napolitano, Newman, Norcros, Norton, Ocasio Cortez, Omar, Panetta, Payne, Jr., Perlmutter, Phillips, Pingree, Pocan, Pressley, Quigley, Raskin, Roybal-Allard, Ruppersberger, Rush, Ryan, San Nicolas, Sánchez, Sarbanes, Scanlon, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott, Sewell, Sherman, Smith (WA), Soto, Strickland, Suozzi,  Swalwell, Takano, Thompson (CA), Titus, Tlaib, Tonko, Torres (CA), Torres (NY), Trahan, Trone, Vargas, Velázquez, Wasserman,  chultz, Watson Coleman, Wexton, Williams, Wilson, and Yarmuth.