Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi today announced her support for a proposal to expand Medicare coverage for people 62-65 years of age and displaced workers over 55. In addition, COBRA coverage would be provided for retirees over 55 whose employers have reneged on their promise to provide retiree health benefits. The following statement was included in the record of a Medicare Expansion Hearing chaired by House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle on Capitol Hill today.
Statement of Congresswoman Pelosi
I commend President Clinton for his leadership in addressing this issue with this major policy initiative, a highlight of the Democratic agenda in the upcoming Congressional session. This proposal gives near-seniors an affordable insurance option and provides security to one of the most difficult to insure groups, at a time when they are most likely to need coverage. Many older Americans with pre-existing conditions either cannot find private insurance, or if they can find it, cannot afford it.
Medicare is one of our success stories. Allowing near-seniors to buy into Medicare at their own expense, and have access to the same quality health care that our seniors have known for years will be another. The buy-in will not affect the costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and given that the proposed program is designed to be self-financing, the strength of the Medicare Trust Fund will be maintained.
These reforms are necessary because an estimated 1 million Americans between the ages of 62 and 65 are uninsured. The new initiative would be available for anyone in this age range who does not have access to an employer-based policy, including workers in small firms that do not offer health coverage, self-employed or part-time workers who lack insurance choices, and people who are divorced or widowed and lose access to a spouse's plan.
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