Romney Proposes Raising Medicare Eligibility Age in 2022

Mitt Romney today proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age in 2022. He also proposed restrictions on future social security benefits.

Romney said his proposals for Medicare and Social Security would begin in 2022, meaning no current or near-retirees would be affected. He also said he favors adjustments to curtail the growth of future benefits for the relatively well-to-do, so "lower-income seniors would receive the most generous benefits.

Beginning in 2022, Romney said, "we will gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year. In the long run, the eligibility ages for both programs will be indexed to longevity so that they increase only as fast as life expectancy."

That's not as bad as the plan Obama was considering, which would have implemented the age increase in 2013, giving those approaching age 65 insufficient time to make plans to pay for another two years of private medical insurance. [More...]

I'm not sure what the life expectancy component means, so I won't comment on that. Is he saying the age for social security benefits could rise about 67 if life expectancy for the average Joe increases to a certain point?

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    Means-testing is one thing (5.00 / 9) (#1)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 11:38:45 PM EST
    Although I'm opposed to it, at least there's some justification for doing that.  But raising the eligibility age is simple insanity purely on actuarial grounds, never mind plain humanity.

    The younger cohort of Medicare recipients as it's now structured pay more into the system than they get out because they're mostly reasonably healthy.  Restricting Medicare to only the oldest (and therefore sickest and most expensive) age bracket is just nuts.

    And that's not even getting into the utter oblivious inhumanity of people like Romney (and Obama) who don't even have physical laborers on their radar.

    I now live in a totally rural area and I see around me every day how farmers and farm laborers' bodies quit well before the current eligibility age.  But when I lived in the suburbs, I also knew plenty of construction workers, house cleaners, waitresses and others whose bodies burned out far before those of us who are privileged to work sitting on our butts all day.

    If these legions of folks have to go through the laborious and complicated process of establishing "disability" in order to collect early, most of the "savings" will be eaten up by the additional bureaucracy required to oh-so-carefully vet those claims so that no waitress or farmer gets to claim benefits they don't deserve after working on their feet for 50 or 60 years.

    At this point, I become apoplectic with rage.  The GOPers are always yapping about "elites," and there's no better example of elite thinking than this.


    Agree (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by cal1942 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 01:21:32 AM EST
    Moving eligibility farther out is indeed an inhumane act.  But, there's more: increasing age of eligibility for Social Security and/or Medicare may leave future workers in the lurch, given that so many non-professional jobs are at risk as workers age.  Retirement income beyond Social Security is hardly stable; defined benefit pensions are virtually a thing of the past and 401K type plans are subject to significant uncertainty.

    It's necessary for this nation to determine what's really important, especially if the jihad against taxes continues.

    We're one of the lowest taxed major nations in the world all the while maintaining a massive military (52% of discretionary spending) with global reach.  If this nation decides maintaining a massive military (gifting significant industrial competitors with expensive public goods) is important then taxes should be raised on EVERYONE.

    Low taxes and a massive military are the 12,000 pound elephants in the room that no one wants to discuss.  

    Worse, the environment for such a discussion doesn't exist as long as Conservatives have a significant share of political power and Grover Norquist (IMO, the most dangerous man in the nation - far more dangerous than thousands of  Osama bin Ladens) has influence.


    Agreed. Advancing the (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 01:42:05 PM EST
    eligibility ages for social security and medicare  are equally bad ideas, but for different reasons. For example, the postponement of social security benefits is likely to postpone retirement, taxing the physical capabilities of many workers and diminishing the opportunities for those entering the workplace.  As for the Economy, social security is, in essence, a monthly stimulus.

    Advancing the eligibility age for medicare is unlikely to save money for the program, as the Kaiser Foundation noted, and shows a fundamental ignorance of health care.  If costs are reduced for the federal government,  those costs do not evaporate, they are just shifted to the previous beneficiaries. Savings in  Medicare can be realized around the periphery and fraud can, maybe, approach zero, but the fact that health care is not  subject to the usual  economies of progress is not grasped or is willfully ignored.

    Health care is expensive and neither assembly-line or widget production analysis is necessarily applicable, often to the chagrin of health care economists.  Indeed, the inherent  and inescapable rising cost is what makes Medicare necessary for the citizenry.  

    A cogent example is the value of colonoscopies. The NE Journal of Medicine study shows that the procedure reduces the incidence of colorectal cancer and saves lives, cutting the death rate in half.   The procedure can cost thousands of dollars. The GAO found that only a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 to 75 had been so screened, and about 59 percent of men and women between the ages of 50 and 74  were tested.  While not the most pleasant procedure, it is important for all over 50.  Implementation would not be without new cost, certainly in the shorter term.

    Of course, health care is a very important component of the  nation's economy.   The real reason, in my view, for advancing age eligibilities for both social security and medicare are to weaken them---age changes  along with "means testing" increases their  political vulnerability and fosters their eventual elimination.


    We should want to create conditions (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 09:53:00 AM EST
    where people don't have to work until they are near 70 in order to be able to retire, so that we make room for those at the younger end of the workforce-eligible spectrum to be gainfully employed and contributing to the system.

    That just seems so obvious it's hard to contemplate the level of willful ignorance required to miss it.

    Which means there is something else afoot...hold the carrot just out of reach, make it harder for people to afford health care, and before you know it, more people will be dead before you ever have to pay out a dime, or you will greatly reduce the number of years payments must be made.  And the longer people have to have private health insurance, well, more windfall for the insurance companies, right?  And how can that be a bad thing?

    That's not as bad (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 10:21:19 AM EST
    as the plan Obama was considering?

    Maybe if Romney is elected he'll try bipartisanship with democrats?

    I wish (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 02:33:46 PM EST
    Obama would try bipartisanship with the Democrats.

    Obamacare anyone? (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 11:04:18 PM EST
    By 2023 presumably anyone who can't get Medicare will be able to get that wonderful Obamacare which will take effect in 2014, so there shouldn't be any uninsured people anyway.  

    Hmm; (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 03:14:48 AM EST
    Romney proposing something that is less worse than Obama.

    Uh oh.

    If/when Romney has the R nomination tied up, he (none / 0) (#10)
    by jawbone on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 03:47:52 PM EST
    will find a way to attack Obama from the left.

    He will say whatever is necessary to bamboozle enough of the voters to be elected. As will Obama.

    But Obama has already played that game on the electorate and may find it less receptive to his bamboozlement.