There have been rumors that President Obama may agree to a Republican demand to hike the Medicare age. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Obama suggested that this move is on the table.
Progressive Democratic senators are revolting against this unpopular idea. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that we should be “lowering” the Medicare age, “not raising it”:
“I do a lot of town halls,” Merkley said. “I can’t tell you how many times someone will come up to me and say, ‘Here’s the thing. I’m 61, and I have these major health problems. I don’t have insurance. I’m praying I make it to 65.’ The idea that we’re going to take all these folks with diseases setting in as they get older, and move them two years later? Absolutely unacceptable.”
“We should be lowering the age, not raising it,” Merkley said. Speaking of the president, Merkley added: “I hope he hears long and loud from us who are connected to the real lives of working people.”
Merkley is absolutely right. Hiking the Medicare age from 65 to 67 would cost seniors at least $11 billion every year. Meanwhile, expanding public health insurance would save American beneficiaries and the Treasury money. The Congressional Budget Office estimates, for example, that offering a public option based on Medicare rates in the Affordable Care Act would save about $15 billion every year.