Healthcare News December 13, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Digging in on Medicare

    ‘No’ to Medicare age change: Liberal Democrats in Congress absolutely, unequivocally, very much do not want to see the Medicare eligibility age raised as part of an agreement on the “fiscal cliff.”

    While some have suggested that Medicaid is actually the higher priority, the left made clear on Wednesday that it’s not ready to give in on raising the Medicare age — an idea President Obama has supported in the past.

    “If this is a trial balloon, it’s a lead balloon,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, adding that he “can’t imagine he is seriously considering it.”

    But Obama does appear to be seriously considering a change in the Medicare eligibility age. He declined to specifically rule it out during an ABC News interview Tuesday night, although he did say it’s not clear that raising the eligibility age would produce meaningful savings. It’s estimated to save the federal government about $113 billion over the first decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but that’s assuming the increase is phased in gradually over several years, so savings might be higher further down the road.

    Healthwatch has more here.

    AARP too: AARP, the nation’s largest seniors’ lobby also reiterated its opposition to a higher eligibility age on Wednesday. 

    “Proposals to increase the Medicare eligibility age simply shift costs onto beneficiaries and do nothing to lower health care costs. In fact, this idea would dramatically increase costs for younger seniors, drive up premiums for those in Medicare, increase costs to businesses and states, and raise health care costs overall,” AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement.

  • US backs United Nations measure in favor of universal health coverage

    The nonbinding measure calls on U.N. member states to ensure citizens’ access to health insurance

  • Warren, Baldwin to join HELP panel

    Two of the election’s most prominent female Senate candidates will join a panel that governs healthcare.

    Incoming Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) were both given spots on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with the Special Committee on Aging. 

    The new Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, will include returning Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

  • Report: Liberal senators united against raising Medicare age

    The Senate’s liberal wing is upset that President Obama has declined to rule out raising Medicare’s eligibility age as part of a deficit-reduction deal, according to a report.

    Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the Washington Post that in a recent private caucus meeting there was an “overwhelming sense” that the raising the age would be “absolutely unacceptable” to progressive lawmakers.

    “I do a lot of town halls,” Merkley told the paper.

    “I can’t tell you how many times someone will come up to me and say, ‘Here’s the thing. I’m 61, and I have these major health problems. I don’t have insurance. I’m praying I make it to 65.’ The idea that we’re going to take all these folks with diseases setting in as they get older, and move them two years later? Absolutely unacceptable.” 

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