October 19, 2017

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Legislation to Create Medicare-X, a Public Plan to Provide Low-Cost, High Quality Care

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored legislation led by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to create Medicare-X, a public plan that would offer families, individuals, and small businesses additional, low-cost health insurance choices and create more competition in the marketplace. The Medicare-X Choice Act would build on the Medicare framework to establish a public insurance plan offered on the individual and small business health exchanges, allowing Americans to choose among the existing private insurance plans or a public one. The bill introduction comes on the heels of President Trump's latest actions to destabilize the individual market, including his announcement that he is ending cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which will cause premiums to rise and could drive even more insurers out of the marketplace.

“The Trump Administration’s continued threats to dismantle and disrupt the American health care system is destabilizing Nevada’s health care markets, resulting in fewer health coverage options for Nevadans,” said Cortez Masto. “Nevadans in rural areas, in particular, have been facing a shortage of health care options and many are not getting the care they deserve. By creating a public option, we can inject more competition into the marketplace, resulting in more choices and lower costs for patients. With Medicare-X, we will able to deliver quality, affordable health care to every Nevadan, no matter their zip code.”

The Medicare-X plan initially would be available in areas where there is a shortage of insurers or higher health care costs due to less competition, including rural communities in Nevada. By 2023, Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country. By 2024, the public plan would be added as another option on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

The Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance coverage to more than 20 million Americans, established critical protections for patients with preexisting conditions, slowed health care cost growth, and created a standard for essential health benefits. However, too many Americans still live in areas with limited competition and unaffordable health care costs.

Under the Medicare-X Choice Act, Americans around the country would have access to low-cost, high-quality health insurance. Medicare-X would use Medicare's network of doctors, require similar reimbursement rates, and guarantee the essential health benefits established in the ACA for families, such as maternity care and mental health services. Additionally, it would ensure access to affordable prescription drugs by offering prices negotiated in conjunction with the Medicare Part D program.