Democratic lawmakers are pushing to pass legislation to lower the Medicare eligibility age to sixty. The current eligibility age is sixty-five.
The Improving Medicare Coverage Act — led by Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Conor Lamb, D-Pa.; Joe Neguse, D-Colo.; and Susan Wild, D-Pa.; Haley Stevens, D-Mich.; and Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. — would expand Medicare to at least 23 million people, 125 lawmakers said in a statement.
“Lowering the Medicare eligibility age will not only be life-changing for at least 23 million people, it will also be life-saving for so many across America who will finally be able to get the care they need and deserve,” said Congresswoman Jayapal.
“Expanding and improving this wildly popular program is not only the right thing to do from a policy perspective, it is also what the majority of Americans across party lines support. Congress and President Biden should immediately deliver for the people by prioritizing the expansion and improvement of Medicare in the upcoming Build Back Better package.”
President Joe Biden supports the proposal in addition to more than 70 percent of the House Democratic Caucus. It can be enacted as part of the upcoming Build Back Better package.
Up to 25 percent of those ages 60 to 64 experience being uninsured before turning 65. According to a new study led by Dr. Joseph Shrager of Stanford University, 65- to 69 year-olds in the U.S. have a statistically better chance of being diagnosed and surviving our most common cancers than in the five years prior.
Overall mortality rates also significantly improve at age 65. Americans aged 60-64 have the highest mortality rates compared to those in the same age range in peer countries — but once they reach 65, mortality rates drastically reduce thanks to Medicare.
The deadly COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the crisis. Many older Americans lost their jobs and their health insurance as the uninsured rate skyrocketed. While the economic recovery has begun for some, older workers are currently being hired at a lower rate than those in younger age groups.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have repeatedly expressed commitments to expanding Medicare. Support for Medicare expansion is also high within Congress. More than 70 percent of the House Democratic Caucus — from moderates to progressives — signed on in support of lowering the age and expanding benefits.
Beyond being supported across the Democratic party, expanding Medicare is popular throughout the country with backing from overwhelming bipartisan majorities. A Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Americans — across party lines — favor lowering the eligibility age.
Another survey shows a full 60 percent of likely voters — including a majority of Republicans — in favor of lowering the eligibility age. Even a majority of people who cast their votes for Donald Trump back expanding Medicare.