WASHINGTON, D.C. (WETM) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Aging Committee, joined Senate colleagues to reintroduce the Medicare at 50 Act, legislation that give New Yorkers 50 and older the option of buying into Medicare.
Gillibrand’s office says that as of July 2020, nearly 3.7 million people aged 65 and older were covered by Medicare in New York. She says that lowering the Medicare participation age to 50 would help 63 million Americans—uninsured and underinsured, including those approaching retirement or facing layoffs — afford health care. The bill also strengthens the Medicare program and lowers Medicare costs for older Americans, according to the senator.
Besides reintroducing the Medicare at 50 Act, Gillibrand and her colleagues also pushed the Biden administration to expand and improve Medicare in the American Families Plan. Gillibrand wants to lower eligibility to 50, expand coverage to include hearing, dental, and vision, cap out-of-pocket expenses for traditional Medicare recipients, and negotiate lower drug prices.
“As New Yorkers face growing health challenges and economic hardship in the wake of the pandemic, far too many older Americans are unsure if they can afford the costs of health care coverage. New Yorkers aged 50 to 64 are often in transition, planning for their retirements or facing layoffs and early retirement, and we must ensure that they can afford the health care they need,” said Gillibrand in a statement.
“This legislation will give millions more people across the country a valuable option for quality affordable health care,” she continued.
Gillibrand cites the Kaiser Family Foundation, which said that 77% of the public supports expanding Medicare eligibility to people between the ages of 50 and 64.
Gillibrand’s office also pointed to a University of Michigan poll on healthy aging that shows 27% of adults approaching retirement don’t think they can afford health insurance over the next year, and more than a quarter have issues navigating the health insurance system. Many ignore their health because of sticker shock.