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Sen. Merkley joins introduction of 'Choose Medicare Act' in push to greatly expand access

Senator Jeff Merkley's office called the bill a potential stepping to stone to 'Medicare for All' which he supports.

Posted: Apr 15, 2021 1:04 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2021 1:07 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is one of the chief sponsors for a bill that proposes greatly expanding Medicare access — a potential stepping stone to "Medicare for All," Merkley's office said in a statement.

Merkley joined Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Dianne Feinstein of California in introducing the bill, dubbed the Choose Medicare Act. According to Merkley's office, the bill would allow anyone who is not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare the opportunity to enroll in Medicare as an individual, and allow employers the ability to purchase Medicare coverage for employees.

“In the richest country in the world, no person should have to worry about whether they’ll be able to afford care if they become sick or get into an accident. That means every American needs high-quality, affordable health care,” said Merkley. “Luckily, we already have an effective, popular solution, and it’s called Medicare. It’s time we put consumers and businesses in the driver’s seat on the road to universal health care by letting every American have the option to secure coverage through this program.”

If passed, the bill would create an addendum to Medicare, called Medicare Part E, that would be open to consumer access.

Merkley's office said that the Medicare expansion would be "fully paid for by premiums" and would be offered on all state and federal exchanges. Current Affordable Care Act subsidies would then apply to help pay for it. Employers would also be able to choose the new Medicare Part E instead of a private insurance plan.

Democrats who support the bill say that it would establish an out-of-pocket maximum for Medicare, expand and increase premium tax credits, direct Medicare to negotiate prices on prescription drugs, and drive down private insurance rates through competition with the expanded Medicare option.

While Merkley said that he supports the concept of Medicare for All and hopes to transition toward it, the new bill sets a course somewhere between that proposal and the idea of a "public option," which President Biden has said he supports. However, it's unclear if Biden will introduce his own version of a public option going forward.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 195884

Reported Deaths: 2590
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38744593
Washington25768233
Marion22259309
Clackamas17723214
Lane13154149
Jackson10959141
Deschutes920075
Umatilla823684
Linn503468
Yamhill450376
Klamath449464
Polk379453
Malheur353063
Josephine337271
Douglas330971
Benton313320
Jefferson222237
Coos209835
Columbia176029
Union145123
Lincoln138921
Wasco138428
Hood River119631
Crook114022
Morrow111316
Clatsop9958
Baker96014
Tillamook6523
Curry64710
Grant5236
Lake4557
Harney3498
Wallowa1855
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
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Reported Deaths: 62699
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Los Angeles123756124120
Riverside2997934594
San Bernardino2972614724
San Diego2791453742
Orange2712965031
Santa Clara1190982098
Kern1093201376
Sacramento1051641693
Fresno1019871690
Alameda881571668
Ventura811021017
San Joaquin733101394
Contra Costa68976805
Stanislaus623101061
Tulare49830840
Monterey43662382
San Mateo42063570
San Francisco36808546
Santa Barbara34391459
Solano33011253
Merced31919461
Sonoma30071321
Imperial28516729
Kings23017246
Placer22720293
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16483242
Santa Cruz16275206
Marin14079227
Yolo13938211
Shasta12175226
Butte12140192
El Dorado10193113
Napa989182
Sutter9445113
Yuba628549
San Benito607463
Lassen570624
Tehama559063
Nevada475575
Tuolumne413967
Humboldt413542
Mendocino412749
Amador366747
Lake348943
Glenn240125
Siskiyou225525
Colusa223616
Calaveras213654
Inyo142838
Del Norte13988
Mono12844
Plumas7186
Modoc5014
Mariposa4507
Trinity4025
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