WASHINGTON—Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are planning another round of healthcare initiatives that could include lowering the Medicare eligibility age, following their major expansion of the Affordable Care Act this year.
Democrats are still negotiating over which healthcare policy elements could be in the second of two spending programs the administration plans to unveil soon, according to congressional aides and industry groups.
The package is likely to contain measures to reduce drug prices and expand health coverage, lawmakers said. Proposals to expand Medicare eligibility from age 65 to 60 and to enable the federal government to negotiate drug prices in the health program for seniors—both of which President Biden supported on the campaign trail—are also likely to be included.
“We should lower the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 down to 60. There are many millions of seniors who would be very, very grateful if we did that right now,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Monday. He also said he hoped to expand Medicare to cover dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses, and to pay for those through savings from reduced drug prices for Medicare.
The healthcare proposals would face opposition from many Republicans and hospital groups, who say they could reduce the labor force because more people may retire early. Republicans also say they are reluctant to add to the nation’s $3 trillion budget deficit and that Medicare’s trust funds are already facing insolvency in coming years.