Increasing Medicare Age of Eligibility May Not Be
Off Table but Chances of Approval Look Dim
White House does not support statement by Sen. Durbin
that issue is not on the table
Dec. 14, 2012 – Yesterday, the Associated Press
reported that increasing the eligibility age for Medicare was no longer
part of the budget negotiations with Republicans. This good news for
older Americans not yet age 65 did not hold up, however, as
Newspapers report today that the White House will not confirm
the measure is off the table in talks aimed at avoiding the fiscal
“Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said Thursday that
the Obama administration had assured him that the eligibility age ‘is no
longer one of the items being considered by the White House,’” wrote
reporter Tony Pugh.
“But White House spokesman Jay Carney walked back
Durbin’s comments, saying, “We’re not going to engage in hypotheticals
about what a package would look like tomorrow on the spending cut side,
negotiated with the Republicans.”
He also reported that in an interview with ABC’s
Barbara Walters that will be broadcast Friday night, Obama said it
wasn’t clear that a higher eligibility age “saves a lot of money. But
what I’ve said is, let’s look at every avenue.”
Sen. Durbin said he did not get the information
directly from the president or the White House. But he is regularly
apprised of the status of negotiations, reports the AP. (AP
story by Andrew Taylor)
Increasing the Medicare age for eligibility has
long been a favorite issue for many Republicans. It was also included in
the budget proposal last year that was presented by House of
Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin
Republican, who became the GOP vice presidential nominee.
The move, however, may not be as helpful to the
budget as many assume, say Democrats.
“The Congressional Budget Office estimates that
slowly hiking Medicare’s eligibility age by two months a year – from age
65 in 2014 to age 67 in 2027 – would cut program spending by $148
billion over the next decade. But it also would lead non-Medicare health
expenditures to increase, lowering the overall federal savings to $113
billion, the CBO found,” according to McClatchy’s Pugh.
The Democrats also point to a report by the Kaiser
Family Foundation that says that if the eligibility age went from 65 to
67 in a year, costs to states and the private sector would be nearly
twice as large as the federal savings: $11.4 billion versus $5.7
House Democrats, too, are lining up behind Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) against increasing Medicare's eligibility
age as part of a year-end tax-and-spending package, according to a
report yesterday in
Pelosi rejected raising Medicare's eligibility age
in an op-ed published Tuesday in USA Today, then doubled down on that
position Wednesday. "We want what happens to be fair," she said in an
interview on CBS's "This Morning" program. "And one of the things that
we object to is raising the Medicare age" (Lillis, 12/12).
So, the topic may not be “off the table,” yet, but
it is looking increasingly less likely that it is an idea that many
Democrats will support.
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