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Sahil Kapur: New Budget Numbers May Kill A Medicare Age Hike: Noted

Sahil Kapur: New Budget Numbers May Kill A Medicare Age Hike:

Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 saves far less than previously projected... cuts the deficit by just $19 billion over a decade, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Last year, the same policy... was found by the CBO to save $113 billion.... The idea has been floated since 2011, when President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner nearly agreed to a broad debt deal that adopted it....

Part of the reason for the low savings is Obamacare. Moving 66- and 65-year-olds off Medicare means they'll likely be eligible for federal subsidies or the expanded Medicare program under the 2010 law. But a larger part of the reason... is that the CBO appears to have fixed a technical error. "They were previously basing their estimates of the average costs of the 65-66 year olds who would no longer be on Medicare on the average costs of ALL 65 and 66 year old Medicare beneficiaries... which includes disabled and end stage renal disease beneficiaries who are clearly far more expensive than your average 65 or 66 year old."

"The much smaller reduction in Medicare spending, combined with a similar increase in non-Medicare spending, results in a net change in projected outlays that is much smaller than previously estimated," CBO concluded.

The budget conference committee, spearheaded by Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), is scheduled to hold its first public hearing next Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are skeptical it will reach a deal, given the deep partisan divide over whether deficit reduction should include higher tax revenues.