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Jayapal Leads 130 Lawmakers in Introducing Bill to Lower Medicare Eligibility Age

Progressives, moderates, and 10 frontline members introduce a joint effort to expand Medicare to at least 23 million people by lowering the eligibility age to 60 as part of the Build Back Better package

WASHINGTON — More than 125 House progressives, moderates, and frontline lawmakers who represent the most competitive districts across the country introduced legislation today that lowers the Medicare eligibility age to 60. The effort — led by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Susan Wild (PA-07), Haley Stevens (MI-11), and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) — would expand Medicare to at least 23 million people. This popular, lifesaving proposal is supported by President Joe Biden in addition to more than 70 percent of the House Democratic Caucus and can be enacted as part of the upcoming Build Back Better package.

“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.”

“Many working Americans – like firefighters and nurses – can end up out of the workforce before 65 because of the grueling nature of their jobs. Most have paid into Medicare for decades at that point and they should get the benefit when they need it,” said Congressman Lamb. “Lowering the Medicare age to 60 will help millions of Americans.”

“Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 will provide immediate and substantive relief to millions of Americans who are underinsured or uninsured,” said Congressman Neguse. “Expanding the long-tested and successful Medicare program is a common-sense, historic measure we can take to massively expand high quality-affordable health care and deliver for the American people. I’ve been proud to lead an initiative alongside Congresswoman Jayapal to expand Medicare and am honored to join her in introducing this bill today.”

“Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility would open the door for more Americans to receive critical health care coverage,” said Congresswoman Wild. “Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of people have been laid off and families have been faced with unexpected medical expenses without insurance, lowering Medicare eligibility now couldn’t be more imperative. I’m proud to support this legislation to strengthen our health care system and ensure that Americans receive the comprehensive care they deserve.”

“By lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60, we are able to cover as many as 23 million additional Americans. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Improving Medicare Coverage Act to expand access and lower health care costs,” said Congresswoman Stevens. “This bill reimagines programs that provide financial assistance to cover the costs of Medicare and eliminates barriers that prevent eligible seniors and people with disabilities from accessing much-needed care.”

“We are the only industrialized nation that does not have guaranteed access to health care for all its citizens – this needs to change now,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “We’re working on ensuring universal health care, and this includes lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 so that more adults can get the critical access to the quality, affordable health care they need. Proud to introduce this legislation today to advance universal health care for more Americans.”

Today’s legislation is co-sponsored by 10 frontline lawmakers who are running for re-election in the most competitive districts across the country. The bill is also endorsed by local and national organizations including Public Citizen, Indivisible, National Nurses United, the Progressive Democrats of America, Social Security Works, the Center for Popular Democracy, MoveOn, Working Families Party, the Sunrise Movement, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America.

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. That number includes 15 lawmakers from the most vulnerable swing districts. This is in addition to support from national labor unions, local groups, and national organizations. 

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 — are in favor of 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.

The Improving Medicare Coverage Act is co-sponsored by more than 125 lawmakers including U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Conor Lamb, Joe Neguse, Susan Wild, Haley Stevens, Debbie Dingell, Alma Adams, Pete Aguilar, Cindy Axne, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cori Bush, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Troy A. Carter, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, J. Luis Correa, Joe Courtney, Angie Craig, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Doyle, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Raúl M. Grijalva, Jahana Hayes, Brian Higgins, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Shelia Jackson Lee, Sara Jacobs, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Kaialiʻi Kahele, Marcy Kaptur, Ro Khanna, Andy Kim, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ann McLane Kuster, Rick Larsen, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Teresa Leger Fernández, Andy Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, Kathy Manning, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Kweisi Mfume, Joseph Morelle, Seth Moulton, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Marie Newman, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Donald M. Payne Jr., Ed Perlmutter, Dean Phillips, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Marilyn Strickland, Thomas R. Suozzi, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Bennie G. Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, Norma Torres, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, Juan Vargas, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Nikema Williams, Frederica S. Wilson, John Yarmuth, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ann Kirkpatrick, Jason Crow, Hakeem Jeffries, and Emanuel Cleaver, II.

The text of the legislation is available here