U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced a bill that would allow people 50 and over to voluntarily buy into Medicare.
Brown, an Ohio Democrat, joined Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin in introducing the bill.
His introduction of the bill came one day after he was pressed on whether he supports Medicare for all proposals advocated by some in his party. Brown, who is thinking of running for president, said he supports universal coverage but would start by allowing people to buy in at 50. He said many people who are not yet old enough to retire might find Medicare a preferable option, including people who lose jobs, want to retire early, or want to move on and still have health insurance.
He said the idea is politically more feasible than Medicare for all. “I want to get something done now,” he said at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
“If you expand Medicare, if you allow a voluntary buy-in at 50, that’s not just practical and smart, that will help people today. That will make a difference in people’s lives.”
He said if such a plan passed he thought “over time people will see how well this works and how many new people are in Medicare and take advantage of it.”
His office cites polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation that indicates that 77 percent of the public supports giving people between the ages of 50 and 64 the option to buy Medicare.
In addition to Brown, Stabenow and Baldwin, 16 other Democratic senators have signed onto the bill, including potential Democratic presidential rivals Cory Booker of New Jersey and candidates Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
The bill is not likely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.