By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
During his recent campaign, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado heard the same question, he told members of the 19th District press corps this morning,
“No matter the county, no matter the party, individuals have asked me about rising health care costs and what we can do about the lack of affordable care,” he said during a 9 a.m. conference call, where he detailed Medicare-X, a middle-way concept reflected in a bill he introduced Monday.
“In creating a public option in Medicare-X, that’s what it means to deliver. First and foremost, I am hearing the people on the ground and representing their interests,” he said
Delgado’s bill, he said, creates a public option in the existing healthcare system that is open to anyone regardless of age or income. However, individuals may keep private or employer-covered insurance coverage if they choose.
“This is a way to build consensus across the aisle,” he said. “I talked to people who want universal health care, but also want to keep their own private insurance. A public option does that.”
Medicare-X will also keep provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as covering pre-existing conditions, as well as expanded to include pediatricians, children’s hospitals and others, covering maternity, newborn care and pediatric services.
The bill also allows for prescription-drug negotiation through Medicare Part D. “This will offer more choice and competition in the marketplace, and begins the effort to expand into rural areas where there are provider shortages,” he said. “It’s a critical step towards achieving universal health care.”
But he said not everyone is on board. “The health insurance industry has not expressed favor with this plan,” he said. “But that’s no surprise. Any time you design a bill that prioritizes those seeking care over the status quo, the status quo is not pleased by that. But I go with the people. Not the insurance companies or the pharmaceutical companies.”
Under his bill, the ACA’s current tax credit threshold of 400 percent above the poverty line would be eliminated, allowing more people to access those tax credits towards their premiums. “We don’t want to see anyone paying more than 13 percent of their income towards health care,” said Delgado.”More people will be eligible for this premium assistance.”
Under the bill, premiums are put into a new, separate trust fund, holding the Medicare trust fund for individuals ages 65 and over harmless.
Delgado joined with Representatives John Larson, CT-1 and Brian Higgins, NY-26 in introducing the bill.
“It makes no sense that despite being the wealthiest country in the world, the United States is the only developed country without universal healthcare,” he said. “This bill brings our country to universal health care.