Senate Democrats are considering including a provision for $1000 vouchers to cover Medicare expenses for seniors, as part of a wider $3.5 trillion social spending package embedded into the budget bill. The idea announced by Sen. Bernie Sanders is intended as a stopgap measure before the provisions for Medicare expansion for dental, vision, and hearing expenses are fully implemented. Sanders, chair of the Budget Committee said that the committee is considering issuing prepaid cards to qualifying seniors.
If this proposal makes it into the final spending package this presents a great opportunity for prepaid card issuers to pursue lucrative contracts for funds distribution and administration. There are currently over 60 million Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom would qualify for the means-tested benefit. The implementation of expanded coverage could take years, as it had with the prescription drug Medicare expansion passed under George W. Bush in 2003. This offers a wide time horizon for potential contracts, with the prospect of prepaid card issuers securing a permanent role in the program.
With a growing political appetite for increased social spending, a successful implementation may lead to more opportunities for prepaid card issuers to partner with the government within other programs.
More details on the voucher proposal can be found in the Bloomberg Government article.
Overview by Sam Klebanov, Research Analyst at Mercator Advisory Group