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President Joe Biden should include expansion of Medicare in his upcoming “American Families Plan” by lowering the eligibility age and adding hearing, dental and vision care along with reduced drug prices, a group of 17 senators urged on Sunday.
Biden plans to unveil details of his “American Families Plan,” which reportedly includes universal pre-K, free community college and extension of a major child tax credit through 2025, at his first speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
The senators say it makes sense to expand Medicare — which they called “one of the most successful and popular federal programs in our nation’s history” since it was signed into law in 1965 — with changes such as lowering the eligibility age to 60 from 65.
“Now, 55 years later, the time is long overdue for us to expand and improve this program so that millions of older Americans can receive the health care they need,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and 16 Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
“We have an historic opportunity to make the most significant expansion of Medicare since it was signed into law,” they wrote in their letter to the president, first reported by Politico.
Their proposal comes hot on the heels of nearly $2 trillion in COVID-19 relief and as Biden has been pushing a huge infrastructure package.
The government could fund the expansion by negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices, the lawmakers wrote.
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, requiring the government health care program to negotiate with drug companies could save at least $456 billion and increase revenue by at least $45 billion over the next decade, they said.
“Savings that are achieved through price negotiation should be used to expand and improve Medicare.”
The missive came as Biden’s approval rating stood at 52%, according to a new poll. His American Rescue Package that included billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief won approval from 65% of those polled.