There is a bad idea bouncing around in Washington and is even being touted by Democrats such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. They say we need to raise the eligibility age for receiving Medicare because life expectancy is increasing.
Actually, life expectancy for some of those people who rely on Medicare the most, poor and under-educated whites, has actually decreased by 4 percent on average from 1990 to 2008, according to a study published in The New York Times in September.
That is a period when economic inequality soared, and many studies have shown that inequality is a big factor in poor health, because of lack of information about health issues, stress, low self-esteem, lack of health insurance and other factors in lower socio-economic tiers.
Life expectancy for affluent, educated people has gone up somewhat but studies have shown that even though we are living longer we are not living longer and healthier lives. We are actually suffering more physical and mental illnesses in our senior years.
Life expectancy is also skewed by lower infant mortality rates in recent decades.
Economists are telling us that we will not save much money at all by raising the eligibility age by two years. That is partly because 65- and 66 year-olds are healthier than older people, so you would make the pool of Medicare recipients a sicker group over all.
This bad idea about raising the eligibility age for Medicare is downright cruel because there are plenty of people who really are sick at age 65 and need Medicare because they do not have private insurance and cannot afford it. And it is equally cruel to raise the age for Social Security for those people who do hard physical labor for a living.
Barney Frank stated it best, recently, when he said Republicans want to weaken the two most successful anti-poverty programs in American history.
Please tell your representatives not to raise the eligibility age for our social safety net that we are paying for. That would be a slap in the face to the middle class that built this country.