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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

Doctors Fear Lowered Provider Rates After S.C. Cuts

By Matt Kennard–June 20 2011 19:10

Doctors treating the poor in the US are braced for significant reductions to their services amid increased pressure from both the Obama administration and Republicans for deep cuts in health spending.

Twenty-nine Republican governors have called for greater flexibility in how states administer Medicaid programmes for the poor, a move which coincides with the Obama administration’s withdrawal of stimulus funds used to pay for treatment.

Nearly 49m people in the US, or one in six Americans, were covered by Medicaid in 2009. The figure is thought to be higher today.

The federal government increased its subsidies to the states under the stimulus programme, spending $2.68 for every dollar a state spent on Medicaid, nearly twice as much as before the stimulus.

The withdrawal of the stimulus money will leave a huge financial shortfall in the programme, which the states do not have the funds to fill. Continue reading

Hypocrisy Alert: The GOP’s Jilted Individual Mandate

By Noam N. Levey

Washington Bureau

May 28, 2011

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has renounced it. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he doesn’t believe in it anymore. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has brushed off suggestions he even considered it.

As the three have discovered, there is hardly a bigger black mark against a Republican presidential candidate today than the hint of past support for requiring Americans to get health insurance — as President Obama‘s new healthcare law mandates.

But Republicans were not always so hostile. Until the healthcare law passed last year, requiring medical insurance had a long history as a mainstream GOP idea.

It was promoted by conservative policy experts at places like the Heritage Foundation more than 20 years ago. In the 1990s, the concept was championed by Republicans on Capitol Hill.

And it was ultimately implemented by Romney in Massachusetts; in 2006 he became the first elected official from either party to sign a mandate into law.

“I still don’t see what the objection is to the idea that people should not be allowed to run around without at least some basic health insurance,” said Mark Pauly, a conservative health economist at the University of Pennsylvania‘s Wharton School.

Emphasizing personal responsibility, Pauly and other conservatives have argued that the uninsured incur medical bills as other Americans do; the tab is just picked up by someone else. Continue reading

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