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Quote of the Day: January 11, 2012

Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age Is a Really Bad Idea Blogging: Is This a Problem with the Media or with the Congressional Budget Office?

Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age really flunks the cost-benefit test.

And Aaron Carroll is HSRILL!!

ARGH! – Medicare eligibility age : ARGH!

Raising the Medicare eligibility age would save the federal government money while shifting more costs to seniors, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

CBO also said the effects of raising the Medicare eligibility age would be “less onerous” if President Obama’s healthcare reform law remains in place.

Proposals to raise the Medicare age have surfaced in nearly every round of budget-cutting talks in Congress since Republicans took over the House majority, and Obama put the idea on the table during negotiations last fall.

If only there was a blog that posted on why it costs two times more to raise the Medicare age from 65 to 67 than we’d see in savings. If only there was a blog that explained such a move would be bad for health, regressive, and require the ACA to be fully in effect. If only there was a blog that explained that even the liberal case for this move is weak. If only there was a blog that explained that this is especially bad for certain, large unions. If only there was a blog that explained that the federal savings in such a move are actually very small

If only there was a blog that had a FAQ on this topic. If only a blog had done a podcast on this topic.

Then maybe I wouldn’t have to read this story again and again and again and again. Then I could shout “ARGH” less often.

I think the major problem is with how CBO presents its estimates. It writes:

Director's Blog: Raising the Ages of Eligibility for Medicare and Social Security: If the eligibility age was raised above 65, fewer people would be eligible for Medicare, and outlays for the program would decline relative to those projected under current law. CBO expects that most people affected by the change would obtain health insurance from other sources, primarily employers or other government programs, although some would have no health insurance. Federal spending on those other programs would increase, partially offsetting the Medicare savings. Many of the people who would otherwise have enrolled in Medicare would face higher premiums for health insurance, higher out-of-pocket costs for health care, or both.

CBO estimates that raising the MEA [to 67] would reduce Medicare outlays, net of premiums and other offsetting receipts, by $148 billion from 2012 through 2021…

What is should have written, IMHO:

CBO estimates that raising the MEA [to 67] would reduce net Medicare outlays by $148 billion from 2012 through 2021. It would also reduce tax revenue collections over that time frame by $80 billion as corporations upped their tax-shielded spending on employee health benefits. 65 and 66-year olds and the businesses that employ them would spend an extra $220 billion purchasing Medicare-level health insurance. And 1/4 of 65 and 66-year olds would find themselves uninsured.

Raising the MEA: a really bad idea.

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