“We have here in America a system right now called Medicare in which we have a popular, affordable, high-quality health-care option,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said. “Shouldn’t every American deserve the opportunity to participate in such a plan? Why reserve such a plan to individuals who are 65 or older?”
Why not, indeed! Democrats are laying out better plans for healthcare in the hope that discussion beginning now will lead to legislation which improves our healthcare delivery system as soon as we regain the House and Senate.
Merkley has teamed with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) on a bill that would allow all Americans to buy their insurance from Medicare — the public option that was left out of the original Affordable Care Act in an attempt to get Republican votes. Other Democrats have proposed plans to move people onto Medicare. The Murphy/Merkley bill would give people the choice. Employers would also have the option to buy their employee insurance plans from Medicare.
This is the newest, and perhaps the best, of the Democratic proposals so far. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal would require everyone to go onto Medicare. A plan by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) would allow people to buy into Medicare, phasing in the option in contrast to the Murphy/Merkle plan which would allow everyone to choose now. The Center for American Progress has yet another proposal that would allow employers to continue their own plans while covering everyone not on an employer plan through Medicare.
For now, with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, none of these plans can move forward. However, laying them on the table now allows analysis and discussion so that the country will be ready to move forward once Democrats have the votes in Congress.