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.