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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/16/19

Medicare for All 64-Year-Olds

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Medicare for All 64-Year-Olds should be a great way to clearly identify these people. They can't have a principled objection to moving up the age of Medicare eligibility by one year. Nor can they plausibly claim that this is some budget busting proposal. Congress routinely approves spending increases of this size for the military without batting an eye.

If some Democrats in Congress dig in their heels and insist that Medicare for All 64-Year-Olds is something that they cannot support, it is not because they are afraid that it won't work. It's because they are afraid that it will.

Of course lowering the age of Medicare eligibility is not the only thing that we should be doing as part of near-term health care reform. We should look to open Medicare to the population as a whole on a voluntary basis. We should also look to make the subsidies under the Affordable Care Act more generous. And, we should be looking to bring our payments for prescription drugs, medical equipment, and doctors more in line with payments in other wealthy countries.

We pay twice as much in all three areas as other wealthy countries. There is no justification for such massive over-payments in the United States. In the case of prescription drugs and medical equipment, in the short term we should adopt the same sort of price controls as are used in other countries. In the longer term we should be moving away from patent monopoly financing for the development of these items. We should instead do direct upfront public funding, with the idea that these products will in the future be sold as generics at free market prices (see Rigged, chapter 5 [it's free]).

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But lowering the Medicare age to 64 is a really big first step. It is also a great way of clarifying the debate by letting us know which Democrats work for the health care industry.

This article originally appeared on Dean Baker's blog.

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Dr. Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. (more...)
 
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