Pennsylvania Congressman Proposes Eliminating Medicare Penalty for Seniors

A first-term U.S. representative thinks he and others in Congress need to find small fixes to health care to go with large-scale reform.

A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania has introduced legislation that removes a penalty on seniors who sign up late for Medicare.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker's bill would end what he describes as an often unexpected cost to those seniors who still have health care through their employers and want to remain on a private plan.

The penalty is also punitive for life, he said, noting that whether a senior is late in signing up by a couple months or a couple years, Medicare costs 10 percent more for their rest of their life.

"We're looking for ways to lower health insurance costs and this is one small area where we can make health care more affordable for seniors," Smucker said in an interview Monday.

The first-term congressman, who voted for the Republicans' health care overhaul last month as a budget committee member before the reform ultimately failed, said he thinks major changes to the Affordable Care Act still need to be done.

But, he said, his proposal is one of many small steps to lower health care without a comprehensive package.

"We have to find many different ways to address the rising costs," he said. "This is one small component that we could getr done for the people."

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