Defying Biden, Some Congressional Democrats Still Seek to Expand Medicare
Health Care

Defying Biden, Some Congressional Democrats Still Seek to Expand Medicare

Andy Barron/RGJ, Reno Gazette Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC, REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl

President Biden didn’t include major health care reforms in his new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. Congressional Democrats are planning to push for them anyway, The Washington Post’s Tony Romm and Seung Min Kim report.

The Democratic lawmakers are seeking to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55 or 60, expand the health services offered under the program and allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Biden’s latest plan includes $200 billion to extend increased Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for people who buy their own health insurance. A fact sheet released by the White House emphasized that the president still supports letting Medicare negotiate prices, lowering premiums and deductibles for those who buy coverage on their own, lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and creating a public option for health insurance — but most of those large-scale reforms were left out of Biden’s latest plan, despite pressure from dozens of Democratic lawmakers.

Why it matters: The continued pushes by congressional Democrats for larger health care changes “threaten to create even more political tension around a package that is already facing no shortage of it,” the Post’s Romm and Kim write. “The early efforts reflect a broader belief among congressional Democrats that they must more aggressively seize on their narrow but powerful majorities to push policies that long have been stalled in Washington — no matter their cost. … But health-care revisions are likely to present a significant challenge, threatening to open rifts not just between the two parties but within the Democratic caucus itself. In an early sign of trouble, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he opposes expanding Medicare eligibility even as he supports broader adjustments to the Affordable Care Act.”