Healthier and Wealthier, or Sicker and Poorer? Prospects for Medicare Beneficiaries Now and in the Future

January 13, 2014

Although Medicare reform is not currently a front-burner issue, proposals to reduce Medicare spending appear regularly on the policy agenda. Various Medicare savings proposals have recently emerged in the context of efforts to control the national deficit and debt, and could arise in the next few months when Congress considers how to modify Medicare’s physician payment policy to avoid a precipitous reduction in physician fees. The recently passed bipartisan budget deal delayed a reduction in Medicare payments to physicians until April, and any effort to permanently replace the existing system by which Medicare pays physicians will be costly.

Many proposals to reduce Medicare spending would require enrollees to pay a larger share of their health care costs. Some of these proposals would affect current beneficiaries. Others would be targeted to future beneficiaries who are approaching the age of Medicare eligibility. What do we know about the health and economic security of beneficiaries today? Will the next generation of seniors be healthier and wealthier, and have greater capacity to absorb higher health care costs? What are the leading proposals to achieve Medicare savings, and how would they affect current and future Medicare beneficiaries? To what extent should higher-income beneficiaries pay more? Or should all beneficiaries pay higher costs?

Dan Perry, president, Alliance for Aging Research, discussed how the health needs of older Americans are changing over time, and the costs associated with their care.

Gretchen Jacobson, associate director of Medicare Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation, assessed the economic resources of current and future generations of Medicare beneficiaries.

Jim Capretta, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Marilyn Moon, director of the Center on Aging, American Institutes for Research, discussed the impact of Medicare proposals on Medicare beneficiaries.

Ed Howard of the Alliance and Tricia Neuman of Kaiser moderated the discussion.

Contact: Marilyn Serafini (202)789-2300

Follow the briefing on Twitter: #MedicareFuture

This event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform and The Kaiser Family Foundation.


Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Gretchen Jacobson Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Tricia Neuman Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Dan Perry Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Jim Capretta Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)