Washington, D.C. — As policymakers consider proposals to lower Medicare costs as part of the deficit-reduction debate, the Center for American Progress today released a new report finding that the proposal to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 years old would worsen the crisis of surging health care costs and put more than 435,000 seniors at risk of becoming uninsured each year.
“Raising the Medicare eligibility age has always been a bad idea because it would actually increase health care costs,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “But with opponents of the health care law still working to block it at every turn, many more seniors would become uninsured because they would have nowhere else to turn. As a result this misguided proposal would undermine the promise of affordable health care for all.”
Raising the eligibility age would harm seniors even if every state fully implements the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But the proposal poses an even greater threat to low-income seniors now that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the law rendered the Medicaid expansion optional for states. As a result, tens of thousands of low-income 65- and 66-year-olds, who would be cut off from Medicare—particularly the most vulnerable seniors living in poverty—will have nowhere to turn for coverage if their states reject the Medicaid expansion.
Using 2011 census data to add to existing Congressional Budget Office estimates, the report’s authors, Maura Calsyn and Lindsay Rosenthal, estimated that in a single year, 435,000 seniors would be at risk of becoming uninsured. This estimate is conservative and understates the impact of raising the eligibility age because the number of seniors affected will only continue to grow over the next decade as the boomer generation retires.
Seniors would not be the only ones harmed by raising the Medicare eligibility age. In fact, if 65- and 66-year-olds lost Medicare coverage and had to turn to other areas of the health care market to find coverage, costs would rise throughout the system.
Report: Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age Would Harm Seniors and Increase Health Care Spending by Maura Calsyn and Lindsay Rosenthal
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