In an interview with the Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad said that it would be “fair and balanced” to raise the Medicare age, which would require a huge cut in benefits to American seniors:
KHIMM: Obama has already suggested raising the retirement age for Medicare. Should that be the starting point for thinking about entitlement savings?
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.
As ThinkProgress’s Igor Volsky writes, raising the Medicare age would create an enormous burden on seniors:
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, raising the eligibility age to 67 would cause an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket health insurance costs for beneficiaries who would have been otherwise covered by Medicare. Seniors in Medicare Part B would also face a 3 percent premium increase, the study found, since younger and healthier enrollees would be routed out of Medicare and into private insurance. Beneficiaries in health care reform’s exchanges would see a similar spike in premiums with the addition of the older population.
Medicare isn’t the driver of our budget deficits — two wars, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and Wall Street’s recession are responsible for most of our debt. It’s simply unfair to ask American seniors to pay for a problem they did not cause.
Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has an alternative, truly “balanced” approach. During a campaign debate last month, she laid out a popular, credible vision for dealing with the deficit: cut back on wasteful military and agriculture subsidy spending, and make the rich pay their fair share. Watch Warren explain: