Obama Says No to Raising Medicare Eligibility Age for Seniors

Could two years really have made the difference? While some healthcare reforms proposals have called for raising Medicare eligibility from age 65 to 67 to address cost concerns associated with the Affordable Care Act, President Obama has made it clear that he would not consider increasing the age limit as a way to aid the national deficit.

Could two years really have made the difference? While some healthcare reforms proposals have called for raising Medicare eligibility from age 65 to 67 to address cost concerns associated with the Affordable Care Act, President Obama has made it clear that he would not consider increasing the age limit as a way to aid the national deficit. Jay Carney, Whitehouse spokesperson, recently stated in a press briefing that “the President has made clear that we don’t believe that that’s the right policy to take.”

A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation study reported that, if the government raised the Medicare eligibility age to 67 in 2014, it could save the federal government an estimated $5.7 billion. However, the foundation also reported that raising the age could potentially cost some groups of seniors as much as $3.7 billion, and another $4.5 billion in employer retiree funds. President Obama said that he would consider other entitlement reforms to reduce the federal deficit—including those for Social Security and government pension programs—in order to avoid burdening seniors from receiving proper healthcare, and even went so far as to volunteer 5% of his salary toward the national deficit for each month furloughed government workers face unpaid work leave.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reported that the change in Medicare eligibility was likely rejected because the potential benefits in resolving deficit issues through an increase, are no longer available. Klein stated that “the cutoff for Medicare eligibility age has been under consideration repeatedly, giving healthcare experts more time to run the numbers and parse their results. Their conclusion, essentially, was that raising the Medicare eligibility age is counterproductive: It cuts the deficit but raises national health spending as it moves seniors to more expensive insurance options.”

Like any other healthcare reform debate, the Medicare age eligibility discussion has many variables. As is so often the case, one decision to help “solve” a problem has the potential to create twice as many. For the time being, it doesn’t appear as though there is enough data or preparedness to make a Medicare age eligibility change.

Around the Web

Why the White House Took the Medicare Age off the Table [Washington Post]

Raising the Age of Medicare Eligibility: A Fresh Look Following Implementation of Health Reform [Kaiser Family Foundation]

Obama’s Voluntary 5% Pay Cut Joined by Lew, Kerry, Holder [Bloomberg]