Changing Medicare: Proposals to Strengthen the Program

April 22, 2003

Medicare has made invaluable contributions to the health and financial security of the elderly and other vulnerable populations. However, its long-term financial stability is the subject of spirited debate, and various aspects of the program are being reassessed. Now, more than ever, with active consideration of an additional prescription drug benefit, proposals to improve and strengthen the program should receive serious attention.

Over several years, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) has convened groups of experts from different disciplines and diverse philosophical views to help inform the debate about Medicare’s future. On April 22, 2003 the Alliance for Health Reform and NASI will cosponsored a briefing to discuss insights gained from these seven Medicare study panels.

Presenters were four of the country’s leading experts on Medicare, all of whom had participated in NASI study panels: Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute; Marilyn Moon, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute; Rosemary Stevens, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania; and Stuart Butler, vice president of the Heritage Foundation. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the discussion.

They addressed questions such as: What contributions has Medicare made to the welfare of its beneficiaries and the health care community as a whole? What is the fiscal outlook of the program? What proposals are being debated to alter its structure? How do these proposals address its long-term financing, benefit structure, approach to care of chronic conditions, utilization of private market principles?


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