Jonathan Oberlander of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill talks about the policy and politics of Medicare. The cost of the Medicare program needs to come down, but politicians cannot agree on how to do it. Many different ideas have been proposed, including raising the eligibility age, privatizing various portions of it, lowering provider payments, and more. Most proposals, says Oberlander, would lower costs to some extent, but the data and evidence on which proposals would be the most effective are scant. It is important, he argues, to set a goal of cost reduction and not just cost shifting. Oberlander says that there is no question in his mind that Medicare will remain in tact, and the most likely changes include higher premiums for high-income beneficiaries, higher premiums for all beneficiaries, and raised eligibility age.
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