Special Report - Medicare: Time to Renew Not Retreat

Medicare Matters. It opened doors to health care by providing coverage the private market didn’t want to offer. Today, 59 million older people and people with disabilities have health care because of Medicare. It relieves families of worry and enhances their quality of life, peace-of-mind, health and economic security.  But, in 2018 all this is in jeopardy. 

We need to keep Medicare current, with oral health, audiology and vision coverage.  We need to pay only the best price for prescription drugs, and interrupt the wasteful flow of Medicare dollars to insurance company profits.  Medicare needs to stay vital and relevant. But that can be done by renewing Medicare, not retreating from its promise.

Unfortunately, many incoming policy-makers are committed to converting Medicare from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution that would help pay for individual private insurance premiums. This would end Medicare as we know it, with its community of interest in top-quality, best-value coverage. Instead, each individual would receive a voucher as partial payment to shop for insurance in the private market. 

Medicare’s 50th anniversary in 2015 gave us an opportunity to reflect on all it has accomplished and what it has meant to the country, to individuals, and to families. The Center for Medicare Advocacy collected 50 Insights about Medicare to honor its 50 years. We solicited ideas and stories from experts and individuals who rely on Medicare. They responded generously with their own experiences and knowledge about what Medicare has done to advance the health and well-being of families throughout the country.  They also reminded us what could have been better and what could be improved to create an even stronger program for the 21st century.  We re-publish the Insights here, along with brand-new stories, to remind policy-makers and citizens what would be lost when they consider privatizing the Medicare program.  

Medicare has met the needs of individual families for over 50 years while also helping to unite our national family. The enclosed information, Insights and real stories illustrate what’s at stake if we unravel this national treasure – and how to renew it for generations to come.

Matt Shepard