Seniors’ Stake in Health Reform

What It Means for Medicare Beneficiaries

    Read the full report (CAP Action)

    America’s seniors, not surprisingly, are asking what health care reform means for them. Seniors, of course, receive the bulk of their health care services through Medicare, as do Americans under the age of 65 with disabilities. And even if there were no issues specific to this important government program in today’s health reform debate—which there are—Medicare beneficiaries have the same stake as all of us do in an affordable health care system that works for everyone. All Americans will benefit from improved quality and efficiency in health care delivery, as well as the economic advantages of reducing the spiraling growth of health care costs and assuring that all Americans have affordable, comprehensive health coverage.

    That’s why it’s important to clarify what really is at stake for seniors and disabled Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare. This paper reviews the two most discussed legislative proposals— The House of Representatives’ Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) passed by the House on November 7, 2009, based on the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200), which the three House authorizing committees passed this summer, and the Senate’s America’s Healthy Future Act, which passed the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month. We examine provisions in the two pieces of legislation that both improve Medicare benefits and slow the rate of growth in Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers.

    Specifically, we will demonstrate that the House bill is the more generous of the two for Medicare beneficiaries, although it is also the more expensive—in part because of these additional Medicare benefits. On balance, though, most of the reforms contained in the two bills would make Medicare a stronger program.

    Read the full report (CAP Action)