Fact or Fiction: Cory Booker Says Allowing 50-Year-Olds Into Medicare Will Help Lower Premiums and Save the Government Money

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Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) claimed on February 4 that allowing 50-year-olds into Medicare would result in lower premiums and saving the government money.

Booker is one of several Democrats who embraces “Medicare-for-all,” and he recently announced his bid into the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

Question

Are there studies that predict potential savings?

Booker cited the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as his direct source for his claim in an interview with CBS.

“Even the CBO says if you lower Medicare to allow 50-year-olds to get into it, you can not only save the government money, but you can lower premiums for all Americans,” Booker told CBS News on Feb. 4.

Watch the video below:

Research

According to Politifact, a CBO study referring to an expanded Medicare role is nonexistent, which was confirmed by Booker’s office. However, his staff said he was drawing conclusions from an October 2017 article about extending Medicare to the 55- to 64-year-old age group.

Under this article’s proposal, Medicare would be mandatory for people starting at 55. Also, it mentions follow-up savings, but there would still be higher costs overall. 

The article also suggested a buy-in program, but it’s unlikely to be an efficient alternative:

The problem with the idea of Medicare buy-in is that relatively few of the near-elderly would choose it. Medicare premiums for this age group—about $8,200 per year for an individual—would be significantly higher than what they currently pay with employer-sponsored insurance and with individual insurance subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A recent Associated Press article on a White House report discussed making changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under President Donald Trump, like removing tax penalties to save taxpayers money.

Casey Mulligan, the chief economist for the White House council, suggested that the ACA’s penalty for uninsured participants was not needed for the program to work. Instead, he said that subsidies were more important.

“Removing the tax penalty and opening up more affordable options was able to save taxpayer dollars, give families more choice, without destabilizing the exchanges,” Mulligan told the AP.

Fact or Fiction?

Fiction. 

Booker’s claim is based on a nonexistent CBO study that was confirmed by his office. Also, the article that inspired Booker’s claim discussed a different idea of mandatory enrollment in Medicare at age 55. The article also suggested higher costs despite some follow-up savings. This claim is rated as false.

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