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Senators introduce bill to allow people to buy into Medicare at age 50

Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin, Debbie Stabenow and Sherrod Brown introduced legislation on Wednesday that would allow people to buy into Medicare at 50 years old.

Baldwin said the bill will help expand coverage, as the Affordable Care Act continues to be challenged in court and in Congress.

“I think now is the time for bold discussion about how we continue to bring down costs,” said Baldwin in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Though other Democratic senators -- including 2020 presidential candidates -- have proposed “Medicare for all,” the Medicare at 50 Act would only expand access to people between 50 and 64 years old. Generally, Medicare benefits are available for people age 65 and over.

"I support universal coverage and I believe one of the best ways to get there is by opening Medicare up for people in their 50s to voluntarily buy in," said Brown in a statement.

Speaking with Myles Udland and Jen Rogers on “The Final Round,” Baldwin said the proposal will expand access to health care while lowering costs.

“Medicare has very low administrative costs compared to private insurance. It also doesn’t have the profit motive that many private insurance companies have. We also know that that age range between 50 and 64 tends to be maybe slightly less healthy than maybe 26 to 50. And so if those slightly less healthy people are choosing Medicare and buy into it, it should lower prices for other people participating in the Affordable Care Act exchange and marketplace,” said Baldwin.

The Federation of American Hospitals issued a statement opposing the plan, saying it would weaken the coverage of people who currently depend on Medicare.

“Instead of focusing on Medicare buy-ins and other variations of single-payer proposals, Congress should work to sustain and expand affordable private coverage. Medicare should be left alone to continue its successful mission of making sure seniors have access to care,” said FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn.

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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