May 7, 2008 9:31PM

Cato Forum: Whatever Happened to Medicare Reform?

Consider the following:

  1. Research suggests the federal Medicare program spends as much as $100 billion per year on medical care that makes seniors neither healthier nor happier.
  2. Medicare’s payment system continues to reward low‐​quality and even harmful medical care.
  3. 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.
  4. According to economist and former Medicare trustee Tom Saving, Medicare alone will require tax rates to rise by 25 percent within a generation, and to double within 75 years, absent reform. 
  5. The picture is far worse than it was when politicians were developing fundamental Medicare reforms 10 years ago.

You would think that Medicare reform would be a high priority for politicians. You would be wrong. The president has proposed reforms that would barely slow the program’s growing dependence on general revenues — a proposal that Congress has largely ignored. The leading presidential candidates advocate tweaks — such as reducing payments for private plans and prescription drugs, or tying payments to quality measures — rather than fundamental reforms.

To help get the politicians focus on this crucial issue, the Cato Institute will host a policy forum on Thursday, May 15, titled, “Whatever Happened to Medicare Reform?” Tom Saving, the Commonwealth Fund’s Stuart Guterman, and I will discuss the current state of the Medicare program, and how the program needs to be reformed. The forum will run from 12pm to 1:30pm

Click here to register.