Medicare-X: Low cost, high quality health care in every ZIP code by 2024

Published 7:54 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

By Tim Kaine

Last week, the Trump Administration endorsed eliminating the Affordable Care Act entirely, threatening to take health care away from millions of people. In Virginia alone, 328,020 people are enrolled in an ACA marketplace plan, and thousands of Virginians under 26 rely on the ACA to stay on their family’s plan. Eliminating the ACA would endanger their coverage and eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Virginians who’ve had cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or a whole host of other medical conditions would be forced back to the days of being charged more or denied coverage altogether because of their medical history.

While President Trump has been laser-focused on taking health care away from millions of Americans, I’ve been focused on improving the ACA and making health care more accessible and affordable.

This week, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and I introduced Medicare-X, an idea I’m excited to put on the table to help people save money on health insurance. This bill will give Americans more quality, affordable health care choices, especially in rural communities that face a shortage of insurance options. Sixty-two Virginia cities and counties, including Franklin, have only insurer on the ACA marketplace this year.

To provide these communities with more affordable health care options, Medicare-X offers a low-cost public plan that families, individuals, and small businesses could compare with existing private plans when choosing their health insurance. Medicare-X would also increase subsidies to guarantee no one has to spend more than 13 percent of their income on premiums for a basic plan, regardless of whether they select Medicare-X or private insurance.

Medicare-X would start with Medicare’s network of doctors and it would offer all the essential health benefits guaranteed by the ACA, like maternity care and mental health services. It would first be sold on the individual exchange in areas where there is a shortage of insurers or higher health care costs due to less competition — including rural communities across Virginia. By 2024, Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country. By 2025, the public plan would be added as another option on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

My goal is more health care options and lower costs to make sure that Virginians — and all Americans — can afford the care they need.

TIM KAINE is a Democratic senator for Virginia, serving in Washington, D.C. Contact him via 202-224-1903.