A top Senate Democrat is claiming that President Obama is no longer open to raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of a package to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, the Wall Street Journal reports. Obama himself didn’t rule out keeping younger seniors out of the health care program during an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, saying he would “look at every avenue.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the assistant majority leader, told reporters that officials have informed him that “it was no longer on the table.” “It’s no longer one of the items beings considered by the White House,” he said.
Obama flirted with the proposal during the 2011 budget talks, though the majority of Democrats oppose it. Indeed, the idea would only save the federal government a net $5.7 billion, while shifting an added $11.4 billion in health care spending to states, employers, and individuals, who would have to find coverage elsewhere.
During a press conference today, Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) bluntly rejected the idea. “As I have said, don’t even think about raising Medicare age,” she said. “We are not throwing America’s seniors over the cliff to give a tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the Medicare provision on Thursday, but did not address it directly.