Understanding how Medicare works is essential to understanding federal health policy. Medicare is the federally administered health insurance program for individuals ages 65 and older and for younger people with permanent disabilities. In 2010, the program covered an estimated 47 million people. It comprised an estimated 15 percent of the federal budget and over one-fifth of total national health expenditures.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 affects Medicare in a number of ways, including benefit improvements, changes in payments to Medicare plans and providers, revenues and delivery system reforms.
What is Medicare and what is its role in the health care system? Who is eligible and what benefits are covered? How is the program administered? How much does Medicare cost and how is it financed? How does it pay doctors and other health care providers and plans? How does the health reform law affect Medicare, and what is Medicare’s role in accomplishing health reform’s goals?
To address these questions and more, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored a March 11 briefing.
Panelists were: Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (and director of the Center for Medicare within CMS); Juliette Cubanski, associate director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation; Mark Hayes, with the Health & FDA Business Practice Group of Greenberg Traurig; and William Scanlon, consultant to the National Health Policy Forum (and former member of MedPAC). Tricia Neuman of Kaiser and Ed Howard of the Alliance co-moderated.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)