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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

An Uncertain Future For Medicare and Medicaid

From Politico:

The Obama administration could be faced with obligations to spend cash it  doesn’t have.

By J. LESTER FEDER| 7/21/11 10:47 PM EDT

A default scenario is so unthinkable that not too many people have thought about what happens to Medicare and Medicaid if a deal isn’t reached.

One longtime Washington health hand said he had not contemplated the overall picture of what happens after Aug. 2 without a deal because, “I think it’s unlikely, but it’s also kind of [too] horrible” to think about.

But people are getting nervous enough that it’s time to give the issue real thought, said Julius Hobson, former congressional affairs director for the American Medical Association.

“I think up until last week people were buying into that usual, conventional wisdom that they’d get that grand deal, and now they’re being disabused of that notion,” he said.

So what does happen? Does Medicare keep making payments? If Social Security checks continue to go out, will Medicare premiums be withheld? Will states get their Medicaid dollars? Continue reading

America: Balance Budget Without Rep. Ryan’s Medicare Cuts

From Politico:

The poll comes as Republicans are feeling pushback from voters over Paul Ryan’s budget plan. | AP Photo

By JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 5/23/11 7:18 AM EDT

Americans aren’t convinced that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are necessary to balance the federal budget, a new poll found on Monday, even as lawmakers continue to argue that the programs must be reined in.

An Associated Press-GfK poll showed that 54 percent of Americans think that the budget can be balanced without cuts to Medicare, while 59 percent said the same about Social Security. On the other hand, 44 percent said that Medicare cuts are needed, while 39 percent said the same about Social Security. Continue reading

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