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Clinton proposes expanding Medicare to more people

Hillary Clinton is stepping to the left on healthcare, expressing support for allowing people younger than 65 to buy into Medicare.

“I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” Clinton said at a campaign event in Virginia on Monday, in comments first reported by Bloomberg News.
While Medicare recipients currently need to be at least 65, Clinton proposed lowering that age to “55 or 50,” for people who buy into the program.

The comments come as Clinton and her Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, fiercely debate the idea of single-payer healthcare.

Sanders proposes a government-run health insurance system for everyone that he casts as “Medicare for All.”

Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sanders’s proposal, saying that it is too costly and unworkable, and that the focus should be on improving the Affordable Care Act.

But she is going part of the way toward his proposal by seeking to allow more people to buy into Medicare.

Clinton’s website already said that she supports a “public option,” a government-run health insurance option for people under 65, though that could also take a different form than simply buying into Medicare.

The public option was the subject of bitter debate during the debate over passing the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010. Lowering the age to get into Medicare was also considered as part of the ObamaCare debate.

The public option was eventually dropped from the bill in order to bring on board more centrist Democrats. It is strongly opposed by the insurance industry.

Clinton has said ObamaCare is a good first step and that she will strongly defend it, but also says that it needs to be improved in a range of ways.

She has put a particular focus on out of pocket costs that remain high for many people with ObamaCare plans, proposing a new tax credit on top of the financial assistance that the health law already provides.

Clinton said Monday that allowing people to buy into Medicare at 55 or 50 could help lower costs for people with private insurance, because those in their 50s are more expensive to care for than younger people.

source: The Hill, By Peter Sullivan – 05/10/16

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