Whatever Happened to Medicare Reform?

May 15, 2008
It is 2008. Research suggests the federal Medicare program spends as much as $100 billion per year on medical care that makes seniors no healthier or happier. Its payment system continues to reward low-quality and even harmful medical care. The trustees of the Medicare program have issued yet another annual report containing dire warnings about Medicare’s financial sustainability, including an unfunded liability of $86 trillion. The picture is far worse than it was when politicians were developing fundamental Medicare reforms 10 years ago. Yet politicians today seem uninterested. The president has proposed reforms that would barely slow the program’s growing dependence on general revenues-a proposal that Congress has largely ignored. Leading presidential candidates advocate tweaks-such as reducing payments for private plans and prescription drugs, or tying payments to quality measures-rather than fundamental reform. Come hear leading analysts discuss whether the case for Medicare reform is any less powerful now than in the past.

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