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Sen. Merkley Speaks Out Against Raising Medicare Age

OPB | Jan. 18, 2013 3:45 p.m. | Updated: June 7, 2013 10:20 a.m. | Portland

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U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

As Congress looks for ways to save money, some lawmakers want to increase the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. But Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely told a group of seniors Friday that that’s a bad idea.

Merkely told the North Portland seniors that savings can be found in Medicare. For example he said, billions of dollars are spent on medicine and the prices aren’t negotiated for bulk purchase — as is done by the Veterans Administration. More money is lost in fraudulent claims, he said.

“There’s a tremendous amount we can do to decrease the cost of health care, but raising the age absolutely is the wrong way to go,” Merkely said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare spending would drop by about 5 percent a year if the eligibility age was increased.

But a separate study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that those savings would be offset by additional costs — as older and sicker Americans join insurance pools in the new health exchanges.

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