Medicare is the national health insurance program that serves 62 million older adults and people with disabilities. It is key to addressing a combination of threatening, interconnected national health and economic challenges:
- The COVID pandemic is pressuring the health care system in multiple ways, especially harming our most vulnerable older adults.
- There is a health insurance crisis brought on by job losses during the pandemic, leaving more people uninsured and pushing more families into poverty.
- The economy is struggling and needs a jumpstart.
- Medicare is being privatized, transformed into an assortment of individual plans, while the unified and cost-effective traditional program has been neglected.
By prioritizing Medicare beneficiaries and the health systems that serve them, we can avoid these drastic national consequences. The Center for Medicare Advocacy proposes a five-part plan that will make Medicare a bulwark against the worsening health and economic challenges facing the American people.
Our Plan: Strengthen Medicare to Build Back Better
To build a stronger economy, with more and better jobs and a healthier population, we recommend the following:
1. Expand the population that can pay a premium for Medicare coverage by reducing the age of eligibility to:
- Help the economy, employers, and encourage wage increases by reducing employer sponsored health insurance costs.
- Enhance support for Medicare, and increase premium revenue, by increasing participation from younger, healthier individuals.
- Improve the country’s health by reducing the number of uninsured Americans.
2. Shore up Medicare’s finances with a few simple high impact fixes:
- Slightly raise the rate of payroll contributions.
- Negotiate drug prices at the national level. Invest the savings from these negotiations in traditional Medicare, to benefit all beneficiaries.
- Correct all overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans.
3. Invest in infrastructure projects that will jolt the economy and create new jobs, thus increasing payroll contributions to the Medicare Trust Fund._
4. Responsibly regulate Skilled Nursing Facilities to save lives, boost quality jobs, and reduce costs:
- Enforce infection control and other quality of care requirements to prevent diseases like Coronavirus from taking hold in skilled nursing facilities.
- Implement comprehensive staffing ratios to bring more qualified workers to care for our most vulnerable citizens.
- Expand training requirements to help upgrade skills and employment for aides and other direct care workers.
5. Ensure access to Medicare-covered home care currently authorized by law, and increase coverage in the future, to improve health, support caregivers, and allow more people to participate in the workforce.