Saturday, December 8, 2012

Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age

You know, it should come as no surprise, but it's still amazing to see how progressives turn every single domestic policy issue into a class war. Take the case of Adele Stan at the Washington Monthy, "Medicare Eligibility Age on the Table?" Life expectancy continues to rise, but according to Stan, longer life is only afforded to the 1 percent, or thereabouts:

Raise the eligibility age and PEOPLE WILL DIE.

No, that’s not an exaggeration, and the failure of certain wonks to take that into consideration speaks to their isolation from everyday people, even the everyday people who provide services to them, such as grocery-store clerks, waitresses, and construction workers in right-to-work states. These are people who cannot wait until they’re 67 for the full complement of Medicare benefits. Many of them are people who will wind up paying the individual mandate penalty in Obamacare, because even if purchased through an exchange, the monthly premium will be more than they can afford.

Not to mention the added health risks of doing physical labor into one’s golden years. Many of these people are lucky to make it to 65. As my AlterNet colleague Lynn Parramore notes, “longevity gains have gone mostly to high earners.”
Oooga boooga aaaahhhh!!! PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE!!!!

These people are so stupid I'm about to roll over laughing.

The elderly are the most pampered demographic constituency in history. There's a smorgasbord of social welfare programs for old people, which is why the old-age poverty rate is the lowest among all age groups, at 8.7 percent for those 65 and older in 2011. But if you're progressive, you can find any kind of perceived disparity, even among the most privileged group in the electorate, and make the case for further expanding government (and for continuing the national bankruptcy, and thus harming future generations). The Wall Street Journal had a symposium on this in September, "Should the Eligibility Age for Medicare Be Raised?" And from Maya MacGuineas:
Raising the Medicare eligibility age is partly just a reflection of the new reality. When people first began receiving Medicare benefits in 1966, the average 65-year-old old lived another 15 years; today that figure is 20 years. It's little wonder that Medicare costs have grown 14-fold, in real terms, since 1970.

One option would be to gradually increase the Medicare age to 67 from 65, as we are already doing with Social Security. If such a policy were phased in between 2014 and 2027, we estimate it would save the federal government almost $150 billion through 2022 (net of new spending to help seniors get coverage from other sources) and reduce long-term Medicare spending by 5% (net of costs related to the Affordable Care Act's new health-care exchanges). Indexing the Medicare eligibility age to longevity—in other words, allowing it to increase beyond 67 as life expectancy rises—would save the federal government even more.

Importantly, these savings would come without substantially increasing the rolls of the uninsured or hurting the most vulnerable. According to estimates from the nonpartisan CBO, 95% of those who would otherwise have been covered by Medicare will instead obtain coverage from employers, the ACA's Medicaid expansion or the health-insurance exchanges scheduled to be up and running in 2014. Many seniors making up to 400% of the poverty line would get direct government subsidies for this new coverage; those who earn more would still benefit from rules that will ban insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions and age.

And the low-income seniors we worry about most may even end up paying less overall than if they had gone on Medicare at the age of 65. According to a 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation study—which actually opposed raising the age—nearly one-third of those age 65 to 67 (and 60% of those without employer coverage) would see their out-of-pocket costs fall. Even those making up to 300% of the poverty line, about $70,000 per year for a family of four in 2014, would see a small reduction.

In addition to better targeting Medicare dollars, this plan would encourage those who can to work a bit longer. Many individuals time their retirement based on the Medicare age; by working a little longer, they would be able to save more, provide more tax revenue to the government and increase the overall size of the economy.

Not everyone would be able to work longer—and those who couldn't would be protected by Medicaid and the new health-care exchanges. But for an aging society, the best way to maintain vibrant growth is to work longer as we live longer.
See, idiot progressives, that's not so hard is it? And not that bad either.

But by the looks of the progressive angst at Memeorandum, this is practically the end of the world. Horrible, just horrible predations on the elderly!! Aaahhahh!!!

Here's poor old Libby Spencer, for example, and I do mean poor and old:
Our well fed, financially secure, very important pundits seem to be unaware, or perhaps they've simply forgotten, that there are millions of long term unemployed out there. I'm willing to bet a majority of them are between the ages of 50 and 65 years old. If anything we should be lowering the age limit to keep these people out of emergency rooms and prevent expensive medical crises that could be avoided with proper preventative care.

Meanwhile, there are some purportedly liberal contrarians of the very important pundit class who are asking what's the big deal about raising the age limit? They're finding "great" reasons to accept what would be a gross betrayal of the voters trust. They didn't re-elect Obama and give the Dems some gains to be sold out in lame duck negotiations. Which of course spawned the traditional December internet fights. If you like watching these unfold, you can probably catch up on the tick tock here.
Oh god, Libby, STFU you stupid old hag. Is that an autobiographical rant or what? Why don't you get a freakin' job and buy some insurance, you leech? It's not like moochers like you aren't covered. Hello, that's why the socialist Obama administration passed the PPACA --- to make sure everyone has health insurance.

Wake the f-k up people. Last I checked, there's still a thing called personal responsibility. Get some bloody health insurance and if you can't, pony up the few hundred dollars for the mandate tax and check into a Medicaid clinic. No one will be dying because of higher age eligibility requirements. God, what freakin' entitlement whiners. Jazz Shaw has more snarky smackdown of these dependency tools, "Oh no, Dems might not get everything they want":
The nation stands at the precipice of a tragedy. Progressive icon Paul Krugman fears that a horrifying vision of the future may come to pass. In this nightmare scenario – and I’d like you all to take a seat and quaff some sedatives here – Barack Obama may sell the liberal agenda down the river and not get everything on the Unicorn Wish List.
For sure.

It's welfare state Armageddon. We're doomed.