Clinton plan would let 55-year-olds to buy into Medicare, increase community health center funding

Sen. Bernie Sanders calls the plan a 'significant step forward'

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Saturday unveiled a health care reform plan that aims to achieve universal coverage in the United States.

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The plan adds greater detail to notions that Clinton had floated earlier in the campaign, including focusing on addressing high out-of-pocket costs, allowing undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, and allowing U.S. residents 55 years and older to buy into Medicare.

However, the plan also includes new initiatives, such as doubling funding for primary care services at community health centers (CHCs).

Under the proposal, CHCs would receive an additional $40 billion over 10 years. CHCs currently get about $3.6 billion annually. The previously released Democratic draft platform pledges additional funding for struggling CHCs, but does not specify funding.

Sanders' influence

National Nurses United Policy Director Michael Lighty, who is a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), said Clinton included the CHC funding proposal in her new plan as part of a compromise with Sanders' campaign. Throughout the Democratic primaries, Sanders touted plans for a public health care option and increased funding for CHCs.

Sanders endorsed Clinton for president on Tuesday.

Still, Clinton's campaign emphasized that her health care positions are not new. For instance, the campaign noted that Clinton supported a public option health plan in 2008, and in 2001 supported allowing individuals younger than age 65 to buy into Medicare.

Clinton said, "We have more work to do to finish our long fight to provide universal, quality, affordable health care to everyone in" the country.

Sanders' response

Sanders on Saturday praised Clinton's new proposal, calling it a "significant step forward" in ensuring health care access for Americans. He said, "Together, these steps will get us closer to the day where everyone in this country has access to quality, affordable health care" (AP/Modern Healthcare, 7/9; Pradhan, Politico, 7/9; Wagner/Weigel, Washington Post, 7/9; Neidig, The Hill, 7/9; Cook, Politico, 7/9; Seitz-Wald, NBC News, 7/12; Prokop, Vox, 7/12).

ICYMI: What you need to know about health care in 2016, part one

The Advisory Board Company's experts weigh in on what health care leaders need to know about service line strategy, nursing, medical groups, post-acute care, and health plans in 2016.

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