QOTD: Kent Conrad
Zaid Jilani caught this from Conrad when he was asked if raising the Medicare age should be cut as part of a Grand Bargain:
I wouldn’t want that to be the starting point, but as part of an overall package, that’s balanced and fair. Given that we now have exchanges to purchase insurance because of the president’s health-care reform law, it makes it much more acceptable, much more reasonable, over a long period of time to gradually increase the age given that people are living so much longer.
This is definitely on the menu. It's not just lame duck deficit hawks:
On Capitol Hill, it isn’t clear how strenuously Democrats will resist cutting entitlements. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said he and others were open to changes as long as they were done in a measured way and were part of deal that included tax increases. Mr. Van Hollen also said changing Social Security and increasing the Medicare eligibility age above 65 should be part of negotiations.
“I’m willing to consider all of these ideas as part of an overall plan,” Mr. Van Hollen said Tuesday at the Journal’s CEO Council.
White House officials in 2011 were in advanced talks with Mr. Boehner that would have agreed to some of these changes, notably raising Medicare’s eligibility age. That is one cause of liberals’ anxiety about how the coming talks may unfold.
Igor Volsky at Think Progress noted that this would just shift the costs to people who would be between the old eligibility age and the new one and these people would very likely end up being uninsured at the worst possible time in their lives. I don't think people realize that even under Obamacare, insurance over the age of 55 is expensive for individuals and employers. I'm sorry, but humans tend to get sicker at this age. The subsidies will not adequately cover the difference. (And, by the way, younger people will likely see their premiums increased if they are in exchanges that are suddenly flooded with a bunch of older, sicker people.)
The Congressional Budget Office studied the proposal when it was part of the House GOP’s budget plan and found it “would have little effect on the trajectory of Medicare’s long-term spending…because younger beneficiaries are healthier and thus less costly than the program’s average beneficiary.”
This is basically an offering to get the Republicans to agree to ask those making more than 259k (or a million)a year to "pay a little bit more." Or perhaps it's better understood as a human sacrifice.
It's hard to believe that it was only three years ago that we were close to an agreement to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55 (which would have been a godsend.) Now Democrats are talking about raising it to 67. After a big re-election victory. Wow.
Bold Progressives reminds us what a progressive Grand Bargain looks like:
We don't have to do this.