We have a real opportunity in the coming weeks to win serious improvements and expansion of Medicare, and to do it in a way that will help us win Medicare for All in the long term.
Call your Senators and Representatives at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to support Medicare expansion! Or use National Nurses United’s dialer system (links at the bottom of the page).
While expanding Medicare is not sufficient to solve the health care crisis for working people, it will be a significant victory, and a real advance towards Medicare for All. In fact, we are only in this position due to the hard work of everyone who has been fighting for Medicare for All for years. But there is still a lot of work to make it a reality.
Why We Need to Expand Medicare
For over five decades, Medicare has provided a measure of dignity for retired working people by taking care of basic healthcare needs and protecting seniors from being bankrupted by major healthcare costs.
However, it does not include coverage for dental, hearing or vision — services which many seniors need, and too many of them can’t afford:
- 75 percent of seniors who need a hearing aid can’t afford to buy one.
- 68 percent of seniors have gum disease.
- 43 percent of seniors who had trouble seeing did not get an eye exam last year.
Far too many people put off needed care until they’re finally eligible for Medicare at 65. Lowering the eligibility age to 60 would allow seniors to get needed care, and make it possible for more people to retire early — creating more jobs for younger workers.
While Medicare has provided prescription drug coverage since 2006, it is banned by law from negotiating drug prices — it is required to pay whatever pharmaceutical companies decide to charge. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices (like every other health insurance plan) would create significant savings which could then be used to provide coverage for dental, hearing or vision, and to lower the eligibility age.
Democratic leaders have indicated that Medicare expansion is include in some form in the reconciliation bill they are currently negotiating — but members of Congress who have been bought off by the pharmaceutical industry are working to reduce the amount of drug negotiation.
Medicare expansion is popular, supported by 86 percent of voters, including 82 percent of Republicans. But it will take action from working people to overcome the opposition of the pharmaceutical industry and the politicians they have bought off.
Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Member of Congress (then call back two more times and ask to speak to each of your Senators). Here’s a script you can use:
“Hi, my name is _______. I’m calling to urge _______ to support Medicare expansion in the human infrastructure package. Specifically:
- Allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs to lower drug prices.
- Improving Medicare to include dental, hearing, and vision and an out-of-pocket cap, and
- Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60.
86 percent of voters are in support of these policies including 82 percent of Republicans. Will the Senator commit to supporting these policies? Thank you for your time.”
Or use National Nurses United’s dialer system: