A group of chief executives from many of the nation’s largest companies is calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age and Medicare eligibility age, among other changes that it says will “protect and modernize” the programs.

The Business Roundtable—which counts among its members CEOs who head Minnesota companies—said changes to the systems “must be part of any comprehensive economic growth and deficit-reduction strategy.”

The group said it undertook an extensive review of federal entitlement programs and found that Medicare has “significant inefficiencies, and providers are not rewarded for high-quality, cost-effective care.” With respect to Social Security, the group said that demographic changes, including the retirement of Baby Boomers, have “rendered the system unsustainable in its current form.”

The Business Roundtable’s plan calls for gradually raising both the Social Security retirement age and the Medicare eligibility age to 70, while protecting retirees and those approaching retirement by exempting anyone who is currently 55 or older.

The group also calls for an expansion of “competitive models of care” by offering seniors competing private plans in addition to traditional Medicare.

According to its website, the Business Roundtable’s members include the following Minnesota business leaders: James Cracchiolo of Ameriprise Financial, Ken Powell of General Mills, Omar Ishrak of Medtronic, Gregg Steinhafel of Target Corporation, and Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group.

“America can preserve the health and retirement safety net and rein in long-term spending growth by modernizing Medicare and Social Security in a way that addresses America’s new fiscal and demographic realities,” Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO, and president of Caesars Entertainment Corporation and chair of The Business Roundtable’s health and retirement committee, said in a statement. “We are calling on President Obama and Congress to look at our plan and enact a package of gradual changes that will provide economic and personal security for generations to come.”

To view the group’s complete plan, click here. To learn more about the proposal in an Associated Press report, click here.

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