Fighting for High-Quality, Affordable Health Care

As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and as a former member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Michael strives to make our nation's health care system work better for Coloradans. Michael believes every American should have an affordable, high-quality health care plan. To accomplish this, he is fighting to build on the progress made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by championing a public option, as well as working to decrease costs, support rural communities, invest in research and innovation, improve the public health system following COVID-19, 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’s approval process for promising breakthrough drugs and treatments. The designation has already led to over 200 life-saving innovations in cancer, cystic-fibrosis, and other diseases.

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. Two years later, Michael passed his bipartisan Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act to better care for kids with complex medical conditions. Michael also passed legislation called the No Surprises Act to end the practice of balance billing and protect patients from surprise medical bills.

As Michael looks to the future of health care, he is focused on increasing competition in rural communities and lowering costs with his proposal, Medicare-X. He will continue to fight for better care for children, with bills such as the Give Kids a Chance Act, and for resources to combat the mental health and substance use crisis, which has devastated communities throughout Colorado. Michael is currently working on bipartisan legislation to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have coverage for innovative tests that can detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms develop.


Too many Coloradans have had to make choices about health care that no one else in the industrialized world has had to make. It is unacceptable. In rural communities, limited competition leaves many Coloradans with fewer choices, and, in some cases, only one high-cost option. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 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.  

Michael’s Medicare-X Choice Act would begin to fix this. Led by Michael and his colleague, Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.A), Medicare-X is a true public option that would offer individuals, families, and small businesses additional high-quality, low-cost health insurance choices and create more competition in the marketplace. It would also allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and move the country closer to universal coverage.

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. A few years after implementation, Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country. Four year later, 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.