Sorry, we have to raise Medicare’s eligibility age

The United States hit its debt ceiling of $31.4 trillion Thursday. As a result, Republicans and Democrats are jousting over how to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit.

Democrats have insisted on raising the debt ceiling without any conditions. Republicans, meanwhile, are looking to cut federal spending in exchange for any increase in the debt limit. Some have suggested raising Medicare’s eligibility age as a potential reform.

That’s reasonable.

The country’s demographics have changed drastically since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965. In 1965, U.S. life expectancy at birth was just 70 years . In 2019 — before COVID-19 took life expectancy to its lowest level in nearly three decades — the average person could expect to live until age 79. People who make it to age 65 can expect to live even longer. According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, life expectancy at 65 is an additional 17 years for men and 19.8 years for women.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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