Millions of people around the country (and billions around the world) have been anxiously waiting for the 2020 U.S. presidential election results. Though the counting took some time, the results show that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States and is now preparing to enter the Oval Office. What do the 2020 election results mean for Medicare and older adults who will soon qualify for Original Medicare? Read on to find out.

Joe Biden’s Plan for Medicare

On the campaign trail, candidate Joe Biden repeatedly promised expansions to Medicare if he were elected. His Vice President, Kamala Harris, echoed these sentiments and even gave some nods to the growing support for Medicare For All. As the Vice President, Biden supported and helped craft the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which brought the United States healthcare system to millions of Americans. He has continued to show support for the ACA, despite pushback from many Republicans in Congress.

While the U.S. is unlikely to see Medicare For All under the Biden presidency due to his past opposition to the idea, expansions to Medicare are much more promising. More specifically, Biden wants to make the following reforms:

  • Lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60
  • Add a “public option” for those who want lower costs but don’t qualify for Medicaid
  • A ban on “surprise billing”
  • Legislation to give the federal government more power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices
  • Expansions to existing elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The biggest change is obviously lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60. This will bring Medicare to millions of Americans. However, it will likely require an increase in payroll taxes to subsidize the change. This could make it a major point of contention in Congress.

Will Joe Biden’s Medicare Agenda Actually Pass Into Law?

In all likelihood, some changes to Medicare will occur during Biden’s presidency. The COVID-19 pandemic has already necessitated many changes to Medicare and many individuals in Congress are calling for further expansions. However, it is far less likely that Biden will get all of the changes listed above passed into law.

Though the final Senate election results have not come out, Republicans will likely retain control of the Senate. The House of Representatives is still controlled by the Democrats, which means that passing any major bill will be complicated. Furthermore, Republicans have shown opposition to increasing taxes in the past, especially payroll taxes — which directly fund Medicare. Thus, some concessions will need to be made on both sides for Medicare legislation to pass into law.

The Bottom Line

The future of Medicare is extremely important, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on his campaign promises, Biden plans to expand Medicare benefits to millions of Americans. However, he may struggle to pass such sweeping legislation through a divided Congress.

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