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Hospitals push age hike for Medicare

Boston Globe, September 30, 2011

As the deficit reduction supercommittee hunts for $1.5 trillion in additional savings, US hospital executives are so worried about having their payments cut that they plan to start lobbying Congress next week to shift the burden onto their elderly patients - specifically by raising the age of eligibility for Medicare. The American Hospital Association is rallying hundreds of hospital leaders to descend upon the Capitol on Tuesday and urge legislators to consider increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 as one way to save money without reducing payments to hospitals. That move is so controversial that President Obama, who once expressed a willingness to entertain the change in Medicare age eligibility, omitted it from his deficit-reduction proposal last week. "Providers have been giving and giving and giving, and will give more. But the beneficiaries also have to be touched even though politicians feel like that's a third rail," said Lynn Nicholas, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association. "We have to look at healthcare entitlements and not just payments. It's pretty much a no brainer to raise the age of eligibility for future enrollees."