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Could raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 avoid fiscal cliff?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
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In no uncertain terms, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) voiced her opposition this morning to her Republican counterparts’ proposal for avoiding the fiscal cliff by raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.

Pelosi’s point of contention is the GOP’s unwillingness to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans while making older Medicare beneficiaries pay higher premiums. In a recent op-ed for USA Today, Pelosi argues that Democrats are willing to discuss reducing health expenditures in the Affordable Care Act while not undermining Medicare as a whole.

Republicans reason that because older beneficiaries consume six times more health care than 18-year-olds, it’s a good place to look for savings. But what does the actual math say? That too, is murky. Larry debates the numbers with two economists who see different results from raising the Medicare eligibility age. 


Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Program on Health Care; he was a paid consultant to both the Romney and Obama Administrations on health care reform, he helped craft Massachusetts’s universal health care law