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Van de Water: Medicare Reforms Need to Preserve Guaranteed Coverage


Radically restructuring Medicare is “neither necessary nor desirable,” writes CBPP Senior Fellow Paul Van de Water in the New York Times’ Room for Debate.  Here’s the opening: 

Medicare is a success by almost any measure, and there’s no reason to weaken its guarantee of health coverage for older Americans and persons with disabilities.

Medicare provides health coverage less expensively than private health insurance.  With 57 million participants, it can demand lower prices from hospitals and doctors, who wield growing market power as part of large health care systems.  Medicare also has much lower administrative expenses than private insurers and doesn’t make a profit.

Much more than private health insurance, Medicare has spearheaded reforms in the health care payment system to improve efficiency and control fees.  Partly due to these reforms, Medicare has outperformed private insurance in limiting the growth of health costs.  Since 1987, Medicare spending per enrollee has grown by 5.7 percent a year on average, compared with 7 percent for private insurance. . . .

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