Friday, December 19, 2014

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The Fiscal Cliff & Medicare

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Rochester: The Fiscal Cliff & Medicare
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As the so-called "fiscal cliff" looms over the country, some are worried that a cut to Medicare could become part of the country's cost-saving solution. At a Medicare seminar Tuesday some said not so fast.

"It really just, to me, feels like playing games... and using seniors to play that game," said Jeanne Crane, a first-time Medicare enrollee.

With the fiscal cliff looming in Washington, ideas are being kicked around on how government can save money. One of those ideas, is Medicare.

"The most important thing individuals are looking for is understanding Medicare, the basis of Medicare, the foundation... and the choices they have available," said Philip Alamond, Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

But those choices may get slimmer for new retirees. Among 15 possible ways that AARP says Congress could restructure Medicare, at the top of the list is a two-year increase to the eligibility age – from 65 to 67.

"I don't think that immediately, that should be anywhere near the top of the list," Crane said.

Jeanne Crane is a self-employed organizational consultant. She believes there are ways to increase federal revenue before cutting into senior citizens' livelihood.

"I very much believe in going after the top income earners first, I believe in changing capital gains - a lot of things in the mix."

AARP offers two differing viewpoints: on one hand, the organization points out that Americans are living longer, and we can't continue to afford taking care of 65 and 66-year-olds. On the other hand, AARP says if we eliminate Medicare for those age groups, they may just apply for Medicaid and overload that program as well."

Jeanne Crane will enter Medicare this year. She believes that 10 to 15 years down the road, may be time to raise the age – but she feels for anyone, who might have to suffer through that sooner.

"As I look to retire, or semi-retire, it's nice to know that I have coverage and I don't have to worry about what group could I get in - because as a single-paying person, it's just become astronomical."

And for 65- and 66-year-olds, could also become universal.

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