On September 26, 2019, Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) introduced the Expanding Health Care Options for Early Retirees Act, a bill to allow retired first responders to buy into Medicare beginning at age 50. He was joined by lead original cosponsor Representative Harley Rouda (D-CA). Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the companion measure in the Senate.
Coverage provided under this bill would be identical to the coverage provided under the existing Medicare program. Retirees would be eligible for tax credits, subsidies, and tax-advantaged contributions from their former employer or pension plan.
The bill specifically requires that it be implemented in such a way that it will not negatively impact the existing Medicare program, beneficiaries, or trust fund. It has been endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, and the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, among other organizations.
“The International Association of Firefighters supports the Expanding Health Care Options for Early Retirees Act. Firefighters and other public safety workers put their health and safety at risk protecting their communities. This act will allow firefighters the ability to buy into Medicare at age 50 so they can get the reliable, quality healthcare they need as a result of service to their communities,” said Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Firefighters.
“First responders always come when we need them,” said Representative Malinowski. “This bill would ensure that when they retire, they have access to quality and reliable health coverage they have earned and deserve.”
Representative Malinowski is a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus and the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus.