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Raising Medicare age could lead to higher costs

NPR, November 7, 2011

Congress's so-called deficit reduction "supercommittee" is down to the final weeks of deliberations in its efforts to come up with $1.2 trillion in budget savings. And one proposal that keeps cropping up is the idea of raising the eligibility age for Medicare. GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney became the just the latest to propose it in his speech to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation last Friday. "As with Social Security, the eligibility age should slowly increase to keep pace with increases in longevity," Romney said. Social Security's "normal" retirement age is gradually rising from 65 to 67 thanks to a change instituted in 1983. Many health care providers, including major hospital groups, have also been urging members of the supercommittee — formally the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — to consider raising Medicare's eligibility age rather than cutting their payments. It's a proposal that makes sense, says Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington D.C. think tank.