Note: During the debate over Obamacare,, the Review was a lonely voice calling for lowering the age for Medicare to, say, 55.
Huffington Post - In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.
Representatives of several major progressive organizations - the Working Families Party, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee, Credo, Social Security Works and the National Nurses United - all echoed this push in conversations with The Huffington Post.
Notwithstanding the support of the influential groups for the proposal and - according to a May 2016 Gallup poll - even a majority of the American people, Medicare-for-all legislation is a non-starter in the current Congress. Single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.
But the proactive strategy speaks to increasing confidence among progressives that if they stick to their ideals and build a grassroots movement around them, they will ultimately move the political spectrum in their direction.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only one of Sanders’ Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential bid, discussed the possibility of lowering the Medicare eligibility age or empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices in his statement on the Republican bill’s collapse.
Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from its current level of 65 is a “very interesting” idea, because of the positive financial effect it would have on the Obamacare insurance exchanges, said Austin Frakt, a health economist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
By allowing the oldest exchange participants to enroll in Medicare, lowering the Medicare age would relieve the health insurance marketplaces of some of their costliest customers, said Frakt, who also has academic posts at Boston University and Harvard.
“It would reduce the premiums in those markets,” he predicted. (Frakt noted, however, that absent measures to offset the cost of the additional beneficiaries, the change would increase Medicare’s financial burden.)
Social Security Works’ Lawson praised the idea as an incremental step toward Medicare-for-all.
“Start by lowering the age to 62 and get it down to zero,” he said.