• CNN.com column on life expectancy and Medicare eligibility

    Last week, Paul Krugman wrote about Medicare saving money, specifically critiquing Sen. Lieberman’s proposal to “save Medicare”.

    Two days later, Senator Lieberman responded in a letter to the editor:

    In his June 13 column, “Medicare Saves Money,” Paul Krugman criticizes my proposals for bringing Medicare back to fiscal balance based on the argument that Medicare costs less than private insurance. That’s like boasting how good a deal you got on your car as you drive it off a cliff. The point is that Medicare will soon be insolvent — in 2024, if not sooner — and the government can’t afford to bail it out, no matter how relatively cost-efficient it is.

    When Medicare began in 1965, the average lifespan in America was 70. Today it is 78. According to the Congressional Budget Office, phasing in an increase in the eligibility from 65 to 67, as I proposed, saves the government $125 billion over 10 years and reduces Medicare spending by 7 percent by 2035.

    Unfortunately, there are some serious holes in Senator Lieberman’s arguments. They just happen to be the topic of my latest piece at CNN.com. Go read it!

    Update: They really shrunk my chart. Here it is, if you can’t see it well there:

    • Seems to me that Lieberman’s proposal also has some of the same characteriscs of saving money on your auto expesnes by not changing the oil.

    • I am a novice when it comes to these issues but could there possibly be an overhaul in these programs that your eligibility is based on your income and tax bracket. If you say the top 50% of earners in the country live longer, could their retirement age be adjusted so that they pay into the system more? It seems to me that a possible way to fund these programs could be to stagger retirement based on your tax bracket, or would “social injustice” ensue. I’m a medical student in my mid-20s and have accepted the fact that these systems almost positively be completely different long before I reach that age. Would it be possible to do a life expectancy analysis at age 40 or 50, where some people have proposed is the age that new changes would be enforced and not on the current population at 65.

    • What a disingenuous person Joe Lieberman is. As though medical costs of private insurance aren’t going over the cliff even faster than those of Medicare.

      Thank you for your link to your CNN.com column on the topic of life expectancy rates and income levels. I hope someone will confront Lieberman directly with this data and take him to task for his willingness to condemn the working poor to two more years of spending their retirement savings on their health care.

      And what is one to say of this use of the term “bail out” in conjunction with Medicare? Medicare has been striving to function efficiently. The creation of Medicare Advantage and Medicare D, without providing funding to support those additions to original Medicare, was the work of irresponsible Congresses, the same body which has never been able to enact a serious payment schedule correction. Now, we have Lieberman seeking to picture Medicare as an unsustainable program that must be contained or curtailed by responsible politicians. What a canard.

    • Also note that the life expectancy rate for seniors has dropped in some rural areas of the US. Many low income seniors rely heavily on local food pantries to make ends meet.:These food items ( donated) are generally high in sodium, sugar and chemicals. What’s more troubling is, Government Surplus food has been scarce recently. The Town of Belmont New York received no grain, fruit or dried milk for June. Instead, seniors had to make do with Hamburger helper and Ready to eat chocolate-marshmallow cereal. Is it any wonder that low income seniors are dropping like flies?

    • Aaron: Can’t believe you guys are defending that Krugman column. I thought you and Austin believed in facts. Krugman (who routinely porves that he knows nothing about health care) is wrong about Medicare spending growing more slowly than private insurance. Here (via the CBO) is the reality:

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