From the Morning Memo:

Legislation was introduced in Washington this week that its sponsor said could potentially change American healthcare – but it’s not the “Medicare for All” bill championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders you’re probably thinking about.

Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, has been discussing his plan to tweak the Affordable Care Act for months. He quietly introduced the bill in the House yesterday – the same day Sanders debuted his single payer proposal with much public fanfare.

The Higgins proposal calls for the government to allow citizens between the ages of 50 and 64 to buy in to Medicare, which he says would address the massive (multi-trillion-dollar) cost of Sanders’ plan that renders it more or less a non-starter in D.C.

“We’re seeking to drive down the cost of healthcare for those between the ages of 50 and 64 and drive up dramtically the quality,” the congressman said.

Higgins said Medicare is better than any healthcare plan available on the exchange, and currently would cost about 40 percent less. He also says 98 percent of patients in the system have access to a primary care physician and a specialist.

Higgins said he doesn’t have a philosophical issue with the single-payer model, but while some are estimating Sanders plan could cost more than $30 trillion over a decade – with no plan from the senator at the moment on how to cover that cost – his comes at no extra charge to the government.

“I think Senator Sanders is making a very sincere contribution to a very important debate in America,” Higgins said. “My bill is just a much more practical bill.”

The congressman said he believes as the health care reform conversation continues, his proposal could emerge as a middle ground to the more extreme plans being pushed at the moment by lawmakers on both the left and the right.

(Conservatives unveiled their own proposal yesterday, calling for all the funds currently allocated under the Affordable Care Act to be distributed to the states via block grants).

“It could be a compromise because we have 34 original co-sponsors,” Higgins said. “We’re getting more every single day. We’re looking to make this a bipartisan bill with both Republican and Democratic support.”

The bills introduced by Higgins and Sanders do have one thing in common: Both would allow the government to leverage the Medicare system to negotiate lower prices for pharmaceuticals.