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Increasing The Medicare Eligibility Age: A Smaller Bargain

From Politico:

By JENNIFER HABERKORN | 7/28/11 12:41 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner failed to strike a “grand bargain” on the nation’s deficit, but they may have pulled off another trick: revolutionizing the debate over Medicare.

When they both accepted the idea of increasing the Medicare eligibility age to 67, they gave a controversial idea more legitimacy and high-profile support than it’s ever gotten before.

The White House’s Fiscal Commission, led by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, listed the idea of raising the eligibility age with the likes of such dramatic structural changes as the public option, block grants or an all-payer system. Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Domenici didn’t even bring up the idea in their deficit report. And the top Democrats in both the House and Senate brushed aside the concept just last month.

But now the idea of raising the eligibility age has gotten the support of Obama and Boehner. While the age change is not expected to be part of the latest debt ceiling compromises, the idea is now likely to be a permanent fixture in the Medicare debate and, someday, to become a reality.

The idea has been loosely supported by Republicans in the past. Continue reading

CMS Report: Healthcare Reform To Increase Spending

Seniors listen to a round table discussion on the benefits of the Affordable  Care Act.

By BRETT NORMAN | 7/28/11 8:36 AM EDT

The Affordable Care Act will drive health care spending up slightly, to nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by 2020, while extending insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, a new report from CMS projects.

But health care’s hefty share of the country’s economic output is reached through an average annual growth in medical spending of 5.8 percent over the next decade — just 0.1 percent more than would have been spent without the health reform law, the report claims.

CMS published its findings this morning in Health Affairs. The report also projects that once all the data are in, health spending in 2010 will have grown a historically low 3.9 percent — slightly lower than the previous record low growth of 4 percent in 2009.

That’s an aftershock of the recession, which cost millions of people their jobs and, consequently, their health insurance, slowing medical spending. Continue reading

Small Biz Skeptical of ACA, But Still To Offer Coverage

From The Hill:

By Sam Baker – 07/25/11 01:00 PM ET

House Republicans leapt on a new report Monday that suggests small businesses might scale back their healthcare benefits in the wake of the reform law.

The survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), found that small businesses don’t have much faith in the new law’s power to control healthcare costs, but they don’t necessarily expect to quit offering coverage as a result.

According to NFIB, the number of small businesses offering health insurance isn’t likely to change much over the next year. Companies that don’t offer it aren’t likely to start, and companies that do aren’t likely to quit. Continue reading

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