Lowering Medicare age comes with big price tag
Giving Americans over 60 access to Medicare would add about 7.3 million people to the program's rolls and swell the budget deficit by $155 billion over a five-year period, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation project said in a new analysis.
Why it matters: While it's a popular idea with voters, the big price tag illustrates why Medicare expansion isn't gaining centrist support and remains a legislative long shot.
What they're saying: Lowering the eligibility age would result in about 3.2 million fewer people having employer-sponsored health coverage, with most transferring to Medicare.
- That would put the federal government on the hook for a larger share of medical spending while lowering per-person spending for work-based health plans.
- The policy would halve the uninsured rate for the newly eligible group, from 8% to 4%.
Flashback: While President Biden didn't initially run on expanding access to Medicare, he agreed to support lowering the age from 65 to 60 in April 2020, when his campaign worked on a unity platform with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
- The idea lost traction as centrists led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) scaled back Biden's social spending ambitions and the Build Back Better agenda.