ICYMI: WSJ: The Danger of Expanding Medicare

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Moderate Democrats like Sens. John Breaux of Louisiana and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska once favored gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age to help ensure the program’s financial sustainability. But few of them are left in Congress. Today the “moderate” Democratic position is that the eligibility age should be *lowered* as an alternative to establishing a single-payer system. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders also favors opening Medicare to everyone over 60, but as a step toward single payer.

The Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Senate budget plan allows the final legislation to lower the eligibility age. President Biden’s budget also endorses the plan, which would cost $200 billion over 10 years and add more than 20 million younger sexagenarians to the 63 million seniors and disabled beneficiaries who already rely on the program. It would also worsen the program’s finances, unnecessarily replace private dollars with tax dollars, and hurt doctors and other providers of medical services.

Medicare’s Part A trust fund, which pays for hospital benefits, is already projected to be insolvent by 2026. Even without expansion, Medicare spending is projected nearly to double over the next 10 years. Congress’s first priority should be to strengthen the program’s finances so that vulnerable seniors can continue to access life-saving health care.

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