Medicare Buy In For Older Americans

Style News Wire | 12/10/2009, 11 p.m.
Medicare Buy In For Older Americans As I mentioned in an email earlier today, it appears that a compromise on ...

Medicare Buy In For Older Americans As I mentioned in an email earlier today, it appears that a compromise on the health care bill is taking shape in the United States Senate. Apart from a triggered public option and exchanges run by the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM), one of the more intriguing developments has to do with an expansion of the Medicare program.

Currently, Medicare, a government run health insurance program, efficiently provides much needed services for Americans over 65. The new proposal in the Senate would lower the age floor to 55, and allow individuals to "buy in" to the system. During the last session, I authored a bill that would have created a "buy in" program for the Children's Health Insurance Program that attracted widespread, bipartisan support in the Texas Legislature until Governor Perry and the Republican leadership killed it. Expanding coverage through Medicare is an excellent way to provide coverage to a large population of our country that is particularly prone to experiencing problems with coverage. Back in early November, I wrote an op-ed in the Texas Tribune that addressed this specific issue:

"Statistics tell a story, and being first in the nation for the number of uninsured says that there are leaders in Texas unwilling to provide healthcare to their constituents. Twenty-five percent of women aged 55-64 are uninsured. Many, who are often widows or divorced with no assistance, are waiting for Medicare to kick in on their 65th birthday to bring them the security of having health insurance once again."

I applaud the Senate for taking steps to ensure older Americans have coverage available to them. As the Senate fleshes out the details on the new compromise, we'll pass along more updates.