The Blog

Health Care Reform's Opposite Day

2:56 PM, Dec 7, 2009 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Phil Klein points us to a Huffington Post report that among the various "public option compromises" under consideration in the Senate is a proposal to "lower the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 55, though an age limit of 60 has also been suggested."

What a ludicrous idea. The coming entitlements crises mean that America ought to raise the age requirements for eligibility in welfare programs, not lower them. Moreover, the entire point of health care reform, the president says, is to reform -- i.e., lower the future cost of -- entitlements. Making it easier to go on Medicare would do precisely the opposite. Here's (Phil) Klein:

[T]hroughout the debate over the creation of a new government plan, one of the fears was that it would use the kind of low Medicare reimbursement rates that would hurt doctors and hospitals, and ultimately force them to cut services and/or shift more costs onto those with private health care. Throughout the process, the government plan was weakened, to the point where eligibility is now limited and it cannot use Medicare reimbursement rates. It's still worth opposing in my view, but it's not as dangerous when it was originally conceived. Yet the expansion of Medicare would, presumably be based on Medicare reimbursement rates, and in practice it could very well add more Americans to a government-run health care plan than the "public option" itself.

Another proposal is to allow individuals under 65-years-old to "buy-in" to Medicare.

The flurry of proposals and counter-proposals suggest confusion and disarray over the public option. And while health care reform probably stands a better chance of passing without the option, it's a testament to liberal power that Reid must make a public demonstration of his desire to keep a public-option-like alternative in a final bill. It must also be incredibly frustrating for the future former Senate majority leader, which is perhaps why he's making ridiculous outbursts.