The White House on Monday categorically ruled out raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of deficit reduction.
Asked during his daily press briefing if President Obama is willing to consider the idea, spokesman Jay Carney said, “No.”
“The president’s made clear that we don’t believe that’s the right policy to take,” he told reporters.
The White House was never fond of the idea, which Republicans and conservative advocates support, but was open to gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 as part of a broader deal in prior deficit reduction talks. Carney’s remarks nix the proposal in the White House’s most explicit terms yet.
Raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 would save the federal government $125 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, by shifting some of the health care burden to younger seniors by requiring them to obtain insurance on their own.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office responded to Carney.
“The White House keeps saying what they won’t do to replace President Obama’s devastating sequester — when will they tell us what they will do, and call on the Senate Democrats to pass it?” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email to TPM.
Immediately after Carney made his remarks, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck tweeted that he was “shocked” and that “[t]he table is bare.”
The table is bare RT @samsteinhp: Carney confirms that Medicare eligibility age being raised is off the table— Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck) February 11, 2013
I’m personally shocked that the White House is ruling out things it previously supported. See Boehner comment, re: jello.— Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck) February 11, 2013
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.