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More Than a Month Later, Bill Cassidy’s Baffling “Monkey Dust” Comment Is Candidate’s Only Response to Questions About His Anti-Senior Record

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Louisiana Seniors Deserve to Know Why Cassidy Voted to Raise Retirement Age to 70 for Medicare

BATON ROUGE – Criticism of Bill Cassidy’s votes to raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 70 has clearly gotten to the congressman, who has been laying low after dismissing questions about his anti-senior record as “monkey dust” more than a month ago.

“Apparently Bill Cassidy doesn’t think Louisiana seniors have a right to know why he thinks they should have to work an additional five years to access the Medicare benefits they have earned through a lifetime of work,” said Kirstin Alvanitakis, communications director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Congressman Cassidy knows he can’t defend his callous actions, so he’s ducking reporters and ignoring legitimate questions about his voting record. I guarantee Louisiana seniors don’t think this issue is ‘monkey dust,’ and his refusal to explain his bizarre comments and dismissive attitude are two more reasons why Louisianians just can’t trust Bill Cassidy.”

In March 2013, Cassidy voted for the Republican Study Committee budget, which would raise the age for full retirement under Medicare to 70. Cassidy voted for this despite the fact that raising Medicare to 70 would increase premiums for seniors inside and outside the system and increase per capita costs of Medicare. That’s why the president of AARP called raising the Medicare age to 70 “pure folly and very dangerous.”

Since he was elected in 2009, Cassidy has never missed a chance to slash retirement benefits by repeatedly voting for budgets that target seniors. Earlier this year Cassidy voted for the Republican Study Committee budget, which would raise the age for Social Security eligibility to 70.

Visit to learn more about Cassidy’s record.


2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Republican Study Committee Budget. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14]

  • The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

2013: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 RSC Budget.  [H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]

  • The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

Cassidy “Shrugged” At The Criticism That His Votes For Republican Budgets Would Hurt The Elderly, Calling It “Monkey Dust.” “Louisiana Democrats painted Representative Bill Cassidy, who is seeking the seat of Senator Mary L. Landrieu, as an opponent of the elderly who is ready to award tax breaks to billionaires at the expense of a struggling middle class. Mr. Cassidy shrugged. ‘The dominant issue in our race is the president’s health care law,’ Mr. Cassidy said. ‘The second dominant issue is that Senator Landrieu has voted with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time. Everything else is monkey dust.’” [New York Times, 4/11/14]

Health Care Cost Institute: Raising Medicare To 70 Would Increase Per Capita Costs, Resulting In Increased Premiums Borne By The Government And Beneficiaries. And “Changes in the eligibility age for Medicare would raise the average per capita cost for the Medicare population because younger and relatively healthier beneficiaries would no longer be eligible. If the eligibility age were changed from age 65 to age 70 for example, while total Medicare spending would decline overall, the per capita cost would increase 12 percent because the 65 to 69 year old participants are generally the lower cost members. The costs of that change would be borne by the federal government and beneficiaries through their subsidized premiums.” [Health Care Cost Institute Independent Report, June 2013]

Study Author: “You Are Spreading Claims Across A Smaller Number Of People…Premiums Are Set At About 25 Percent Of The Actual Costs So Those Seniors’ Costs Would Go Up Unless The Law Is Changed.” “‘Overall, it does save money, but one of the things often forgotten is that you increase costs for those who remain in the program because you are taking the lowest cost people out of that average cost calculation for the Medicare premium,’ Dale Yamamoto, an actuary who prepared the report and Health Care Cost Institute board member, said in an interview. ‘You would be taking a good chunk of people out of the Medicare program by raising the eligibility to 70. You are spreading claims across a smaller number of people…Premiums are set at about 25 percent of the actual costs so those seniors’ costs would go up unless the law is changed,’ Yamamoto said.” [Forbes, 5/15/13]

Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Increases Premiums Because By Removing Younger And Healthy Seniors From The Risk Pool. According to Forbes, “An idea often floated in Congress to reduce spending on Medicare by raising the eligibility age for the federal health insurance program for the elderly from 65 to 70 years old would jack up costs per person for those seniors left in the program by 12 percent, if implemented. And that likely means out-of-pocket costs and premiums for seniors 70 and older who are still in the Medicare program would also rise. ” [Forbes, 5/15/13]

Raising Medicare Eligibility Age “Would Also Likely Mean [Seniors’] Part B Premiums… Would Also Rise.” According to Forbes, “The increased costs to care for the older and smaller number of seniors left in the program would also likely mean their Part B Medicare premiums that pay for doctors’ office visits and certain outpatient care costs would also rise.  Unless Congress changes the law establishing the formula for Medicare part B premiums, seniors would continue to pay 25 percent of the Part B premium, which is about $105 a month today for most seniors, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.” [Forbes, 5/15/13]

The President Of AARP Said Raising The Medicare Age To 70 Was “Pure Folly And Very Dangerous.” “In a speech this week, A. Barry Rand, AARP’s CEO, denounced proposals to increase the eligibility age for Medicare, saying it would shift costs to employers, state governments and individuals. “This is pure folly and very dangerous,’ Rand said.” [CBS, 1/16/13]

The Kaiser Family Foundation Found That Raising Medicare Age To 67 Would Increase Seniors Out-Of-Pocket Costs And Premiums, Even Before Repealing The Additional Protections Afforded By The ACA. “The study estimates that raising Medicare’s eligibility to 67 in 2014 would generate an estimated $5.7 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also result in an estimated net increase of $3.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree health-care costs. In addition, the study projects that the change would raise premiums by about 3 percent both for those who remain on Medicare and for those who obtain coverage through health reform’s new insurance exchanges. The study assumes both full implementation of the health reform law and the higher eligibility age in 2014 in order to estimate the full effect of both the law and the policy proposal.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 7/18/11]

Strengthen Social Security Estimated That Raising Medicare Age To 67 Could Result In Out-Of-Pocket Costs Consuming 45 Percent Of Certain Seniors’ Social Security Checks. “Out-of-pocket health care costs would increase, on average, by $4,300 in 2014 for 960,000 people aged 65 and 66 who purchase coverage through a health insurance exchange and have incomes exceeding 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($43,560), making them ineligible for subsidies available to exchange participants with lower incomes. Under current law, these 65- and 66-year-old retirees’ average out-of-pocket costs would be $6,800 in 2014 out of a total Social Security benefit of $24,469. If forced out of Medicare and onto the health insurance exchanges, their average out-of-pocket health care costs would grow to $11,100, out of a total Social Security benefit of $24,469. As a result, if the Medicare eligibility age is raised, out-of-pocket health care costs would go from consuming 28 percent to 45 percent of those 65- and 66-year-old retirees’ Social Security check.” [Strengthen Social Security, accessed 4/13/14]