When you're rich, cruel, going on seventy, childishly resentful and happen to be a Senator, proposals like this come easily. That's Joe Lieberman, one of the Village Elders.
So Joe Lieberman is proposing that we raise the Medicare eligibility age. That’s a truly cruel idea; as it happens, I know several people who are hanging on, postponing needed medical care, hoping that they can make it to 65 before something terrible happens. And if I know such people in my fairly sheltered social circles, just imagine how widespread such stories must be.
But beyond that, think about what it means to move people out of Medicare into private insurance, if they can get it.
Medicare has its problems — but all the evidence says that it is substantially more cost-effective than private insurance. Partly this is because it has lower administrative costs; partly it’s because Medicare is able to use its market power to negotiate lower prices. And the international evidence is overwhelming: single-payer systems are much cheaper than systems centered on private insurance.
So think of this as a national interest thing rather than a budget thing: Lieberman is proposing that we move a substantial number of older Americans into a worse, more expensive health care system. Why would you want to do such a thing, as opposed to raising enough additional revenue to keep them on Medicare?
I'll tell you why. Because he's an attention junkie who hates the people he used to represent and you can just assume that the Sunday talk shows and FOX News will greet him on with open arms and give him a big wet kiss for his valiant effort of "talking to America like an adult." There was a time not too long ago when he supported the idea of lowering the age to 55.
In the vid, Lieberman appeared to go further than the current Senate deal, which would expand Medicare to those aged 55-64, saying he supported the idea of expanding it to people aged 50 and over. Lieberman referenced his proposal along these lines during the 2006 campaign, and added:
“My proposals were to basically expand the existing successful public health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid…
“When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group — post 50, maybe more like post 55. People who have retired early, or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they’re too young to qualify for Medicare.
“What I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into Medicare early and again on the premise that that would be less expensive than the enormous cost. If you’re 55 or 60 and you’re without health insurance and you go in to try to buy it, because you’re older … you’re rated as a risk so you pay a lot of money.”
With BFF's like Glenn Beck, it's not surprising anymore what this gasbag will propose, but there is no excuse to hurt 98% of our population out of some twisted vendetta. How many American seniors would simply die or suffer so much more pain under his plan?
Kevin Drum explains, it's another Paul Ryan Ponzi scheme:
Of course, the problem is that controlling spending and revenue levels is a lot easier than controlling cost growth. So, like the proverbial drunk looking under the lamppost for his car keys because the light is better there, that's where Lieberman is looking. But in the end, it won't work. It's true that we're likely to need ways to cut Medicare's spending levels and increase its revenue levels, but 80% of our energy should be spent on reining in cost growth. Lieberman's plan doesn't.
UPDATE: Actually, it's even worse than this. Raising the Medicare eligibility age would probably be bad for health outcomes and, in the end, might raise Medicare costs, not lower them. Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll have the data and the charts here.