Today, 48 organizations, including Partners for Dignity & Rights, Public Citizen, Indivisible and Social Security Works released a letter calling on President Joe Biden to include bold drug pricing reforms in his forthcoming American Families Plan and use the savings to implement popular Medicare benefit expansions. Families USA, the Episcopal Church, MomsRising and Doctors for America were among the signees.
Drug pricing reform will produce upwards of $450 billion in savings over 10 years, and the organizations are calling on Biden to use these savings to reinvest in Medicare by:
- Adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare;
- Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50; and
- Creating an out-of-pocket cap for medical expenses.
Alongside the letter, the organizations released a new poll from Data for Progress showing wide support across party lines for expanding and improving Medicare. The poll found that 86% of Americans, including 82% of Republicans, support adding dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare. It also found that three-quarters of Democrats, a majority of independents, and nearly half of Republicans also support lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 55.
“Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50, capping out-of-pocket costs, and expanding benefits to include dental, hearing, and vision would improve access to care for millions of Americans. Far too many Americans have lost their insurance or put off needed care due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Eagan Kemp, Health Care Policy Advocate for Public Citizen. “The Biden Administration and Congress have a chance to deliver important progress at a crucial time.”
“Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices down saves money for the federal government, which is the largest buyer of prescription drugs in the world,” said Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works. “We must pump those savings back into Medicare to expand eligibility and add benefits that equalize Medicare with private insurance.”
“With the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt in our communities, now is a crucial moment to expand public health care coverage and deliver savings on prescription drug prices to the American people. Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 50 will be an essential step towards reducing the racial health inequities by increasing coverage to communities of color and low-income folks,” said Mary Small, Legislative Director for Indivisible. “Allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and then reinvesting those savings back into the program to expand services further strengthens our path towards universal coverage for all.”