Fighting for High-Quality, Affordable Health Care

As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and a former member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Michael is working to make our nation's health care system more responsive to the needs of families in Colorado. Michael believes every American should be covered with an affordable, high-quality health care plan. To accomplish this, he is fighting to continue the progress made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while also working to decrease costs, support rural communities, invest in research and innovation, and fight the opioid epidemic.

Since joining the Senate in 2009, Michael has worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that modernizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), advances medical innovation, and enhances patient access to life-saving treatments. Among these advancements is the Breakthrough Therapies Designation, a bipartisan law that Michael helped pass in 2012 to expedite the FDA approval process for breakthrough drugs and treatments that show dramatic responses early in development. The designation has already led to life-saving innovations in cancer, cystic-fibrosis, and other diseases.

In 2013, Michael championed the bipartisan Drug Quality and Security Act known as “Track and Trace.” The law created a system to track prescription drugs from the time they are manufactured to the moment they are delivered to the pharmacy, helping eliminate counterfeit and tainted drugs from the market. In 2016, Michael secured several priorities in the 21st Century Cures Act, including measures to build on the Breakthrough Designation for medical devices, create a pathway to speed up access to antibiotics for life-threatening conditions, and provide additional resources for mental health services and the opioid crisis. In 2017, Michael again worked across the aisle to pass the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act, which will close the cancer research gap between adults and kids, prompting companies to study the most innovative treatments for pediatric cancer.

As Michael looks to the future of health care, he is focused on increasing competition in rural communities and lowering costs with his latest proposal, Medicare-X.  He will continue to fight for better care for children, with bills such as the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, and for resources to combat the opioid crisis, which has devastated communities throughout Colorado. As a forward-thinker in this exciting era of precision medicine and gene editing, Michael will continue his bipartisan efforts to advance innovation and research in Colorado and across the country.   


"Too many Coloradans have had to make choices about health care that no one else in the industrialized world has had to make. This is unacceptable. In rural communities, limited competition is leaving many Coloradans with fewer choices, and, in some cases, only one high-cost option. Medicare-X is a plan that begins to fix this problem by giving families and individuals a meaningful and affordable alternative. And as it expands to other communities, it will move us toward our goal of ensuring everyone in our country has quality health care." 

Although the Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance coverage to more than 20 million people, too many Americans still live in areas with limited competition and unaffordable health care costs. Medicare-X would change that.

Led by Michael and his colleague, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Medicare-X is a true public option that would offer individuals, families, and small businesses additional, low-cost health insurance choices and create more competition in the marketplace.

The Medicare-X Choice Act would build on the Medicare framework to establish a public insurance plan offered on the individual and small business health exchanges, allowing Americans to choose among the existing private insurance plans or a public one. The plan initially would be available in areas where there is a shortage of insurers or higher health care costs due to less competition—including rural communities in Colorado. By 2023, Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country. By 2024, the public plan would be added as another option on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.

Medicare-X would use Medicare's network of doctors, require similar reimbursement rates, and guarantee the essential health benefits established in the ACA for families, such as maternity care and mental health services. Additionally, it would ensure access to affordable prescription drugs by offering prices negotiated in conjunction with the Medicare Part D program.

Read more about Medicare-X in Michael’s op-ed on CNN.

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