WASHINGTON, D.C. (WETM) — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Aging Committee, joined Senate colleagues to reintroduce the Medicare at 50 Act, legislation to give New Yorkers between the ages of 50 and 64 years old the option of buying into Medicare. As of July 2020, nearly 3.7 million people aged 65 and older were covered by Medicare in New York. Lowering the Medicare participation age to 50 would help 63 million uninsured and under-insured Americans — including those approaching retirement, or those facing mandatory retirement or layoffs — afford their health care costs. Additionally, the bill would strengthen the Medicare program and lower Medicare costs for older Americans. 

In addition to reintroducing the Medicare at 50 Act, Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues also called on the Biden administration to expand and improve the Medicare program as part of the American Families Plan. Gillibrand is urging the administration to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 50, expand Medicare benefits to include hearing, dental, and vision care, cap out-of-pocket expenses for traditional Medicare recipients, and negotiate lower drug prices to ensure everyone can afford the medications they need.

“As New Yorkers face growing health challenges and economic hardship in the wake of the pandemic, far too many older Americans are unsure if they can afford the costs of health care coverage. New Yorkers aged 50-64 are often in transition, planning for their retirements or facing layoffs and early retirement, and we must ensure that they can afford the health care they need,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As a member of the Aging Committee, expanding Medicare access and reducing prescription drug prices for older adults are some of my top priorities. This legislation will give millions more people across the country a valuable option for quality affordable health care and I will keep pushing for it and other provisions to strengthen Medicare in the American Families Plan.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 77% of the public supports expanding Medicare eligibility to people between the ages of 50 and 64.

Today, 27% of adults approaching retirement are not confident that they can afford health insurance over the next year, and more than a quarter have issues navigating health insurance options, coverage decisions and out-of-pocket costs. Many did not get the care they needed because of how much it would cost or kept a job or delayed retirement to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Full text of the Medicare at 50 Act can be found here.

Full text of the letter to the Biden administration can be found here.