US Senator Bernie Sanders
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Senator Bernie Sanders hopes to include a Medicare expansion in the Democrats’ upcoming stimulus plan.
The chairman of Vermont’s independent Senate and Senate Budgets Committee hopes to lower the age of eligibility for coverage from the current age of 65 to 60 or 55, an adviser to Sanders confirmed on Friday. Sanders also wants to make sure Medicare covers dental visits and glasses, among other things.
He wants to fund the expansion of coverage by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drug companies. Politico first reported on the senator’s plans.
Sanders wants the provision to be included in the next Democratic budget adjustment bill, which can be passed without Republican votes in the Senate, which is 50-50 split by party. Democrats may have to run part or all of their sprawling infrastructure and economic recovery – which could exceed $ 3 trillion – through the process.
The GOP has generally spoken out against the growth of government health programs.
President Joe Biden plans to provide more details on his infrastructure proposal in a speech in Pittsburgh next week. Democrats want the proposal to address not only transport, broadband and climate change, but also paid vacation, education and potential health care.
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The party has been looking for ways to expand insurance coverage since taking unified control of the White House and Congress in January. Biden has so far failed to respond to his suggestion to add a Medicare-like public option as his two top priorities after taking office have been coronavirus support and economic recovery.
Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., And Tim Kaine, D-Va., Have called for a public option to be included in the next reconciliation bill.
Sanders has long supported a Medicare for All payer insurance scheme and said Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices directly. He and Biden argued during the 2020 presidential primaries over how aggressively the U.S. should expand insurance coverage.
As head of the budget committee, Sanders would play an important role in getting Congress to pass the next law of reconciliation.
The Senate can use the reconciliation once per fiscal year, so it has two more options to guide the legislation through the process during the ongoing Congress.
The Biden government is considering splitting the recovery plan into two phases. Infrastructure regulations may have a better chance of winning Republican votes than plans to expand the social safety net.
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