KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Leading Blue Dog Suggests Extending Medicare To Uninsured

Leading Blue Dogs wrestle over options to increase coverage for the uninsured and extend Medicare. The Hill reports that Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., "who had emerged as a leader among centrist Blue Dog Democrats opposing the public health insurance option, has suggested something his colleagues consider even more drastic – opening Medicare to those under 65 without insurance. He made the suggestion in meetings with House Democratic leaders and brought the idea to the closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting Thursday."

Medicare "would be open to those who don't have insurance through their employers, the same people who would be covered by the public option already under discussion. But Ross said he would want reimbursement for providers to be at a 'much greater rate' than it is now. Medicare reimbursement rates have been a sore point for rural lawmakers who feel that Medicare shortchanges their hospitals." 

"The hostility directed at Medicare by rural, centrist, Blue Dog lawmakers is what makes Ross's Medicare suggestion so surprising. He is all three – a rural, centrist Blue Dog. Indeed he is a former co-chairman of the coalition, and is the leader of the Blue Dogs' Health Care Task Force. Ross's fellow Blue Dogs distanced themselves from the Medicare idea, but handled the question gingerly" (Soraghan, 10/15).

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