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August 26, 2009

Move Medicare To 55 Then Drop It Every Year

-- by Dave Johnson

I have an idea for a bipartisan solution to the health care reform effort that everyone can agree on.

Lower the age for Medicare to 55 right now, and then drop the minimum age by five years every year as the system adjusts to the influx of new people.

This is a bipartisan solution because it expands on the Republican Party's main concern that Medicare be protected, as stated in their "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors" proposal to "protect Medicare." It also protects the "Blue Dog" Democrats' main concern that a complicated "public option" would harm large insurance companies by offering the public superior services at a lower cost.

How hard would it be to add this idea to the health care legislation? It would be a simple addition to the current legislation, requiring only a few paragraphs in the 1000-page bill. There would be very little additional administrative cost because Medicare already exists and serves millions of people, and all the procedures for adding and serving lots of people are already in place.

People between 55 and 65 years of age would see an immediate benefit because they would be immediately covered. And each year more people would benefit. By 2013 when the current legislation is supposed to start phasing in, everyone over the age of 40 would already be covered, greatly lowering the costs of covering the remaining younger, healthier people who remain uncovered. And costs would be reduced further every year as the age of eligibility drops by another five years.

This would be a winner with voters because everyone understands and loves the Medicare program.

This idea addresses the complaints about the reform legislation before Congress:
* It is too complicated ("over 1000 pages") - this requires only a few paragraphs of legislation
* It amounts to a "government takeover" - this only expands on an existing, popular program
* It is too expensive - several centuries of all costs of this program can easily be covered for by rescinding the bailouts received by the Wall Street millionaires and billionaires and asking for the money back - requiring only another few paragraphs of legislation.

So how hard would it be to introduce this solution to the contentious health care reform debate?

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 26, 2009 4:06 PM


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