Clinton floats plan to let people ages 50 & up voluntarily 'buy in' to Medicare: 5 things to know

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shuffled to the left this week on healthcare, proposing a policy The New York Times has dubbed "Medicare for more."

Here are five things to know about her newest healthcare proposal.

1. Ms. Clinton proposed a public option of sorts that would allow Americans ages 50 or 55 and up to voluntarily buy into Medicare. At a campaign event in Virginia Monday she said, "I'm also in favor of what's called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age," according to The New York Times.

2. This idea is not new in Congress. It has been discussed among legislators for decades, and a similar Medicare buy-in proposal was suggested by former President Bill Clinton at his 1998 State of the Union Address, according to the report. In fact, incremental Medicare expansion is what single-payer advocates and the original Medicare authors alike hoped for, according to The New York Times.

3. The idea is new to Ms. Clinton's campaign, however. It represents a gradual shift left from her previous proposals, which began in February. It was then Ms. Clinton first began to discuss offering a public option in the form of a government-run health plan sold on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to the report.  

4. The shift was likely influenced by her competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Sen. Sanders has remained in the race despite trailing Ms. Clinton in delegate counts. This has forced Ms. Clinton to continue to address challenges from both the right and the left — and has effectively pushed her into more progressive policies on minimum wage, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline, according to the report. It seems the same forces are at work on her healthcare policy as well, though Sen. Sanders said her shift was not enough, according to the report.

5. The concept could potentially benefit both middle-age and young Americans. Many Americans over age 55 who buy insurance on the ACA exchanges face much higher premiums than their younger counterparts because they are seen as a liability. If they were able to buy Medicare, this could help address the issue, and help lower premiums for younger Americans as well, according to the report. However, Ms. Clinton did not specify if her plan would provide subsidies for low income Americans to buy Medicare, which could be an obstacle, according to the report.


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