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On April 18, 2018, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the “Choose Medicare Act.”  The Act would create a new Medicare plan, “Medicare Part E,” which would allow virtually all Americans to choose the traditional Medicare program in addition to now-available private insurance options. Medicare Part E would be available on the Affordable Care Act exchange, as well as being an alternative to private coverage for employers to offer their employees. The Act would cover the same benefits as traditional Medicare, as well as additional benefits to meet the needs of the nonelderly.

The Act would help more people gain access to quality, affordable health coverage and would offer valuable options for employers and employees. Not only would the Act leverage the existing network and low administrative costs of the Medicare program, it would achieve additional savings by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.  In addition, the Act would improve Medicare by introducing a long-overdue out-of-pocket cap in the traditional Medicare program.

The Choose Medicare Act is one of several pieces of legislation being discussed that build on the success of the Medicare program. The improvements it includes for Medicare and current Medicare beneficiaries, along with possible expansion, are of key import.  If Medicare is to be a model for, or method of, reaching coverage for all, it must first be strengthened and improved; the Choose Medicare Act is an important step forward.

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