Morning Must-Read: Uwe Reinhardt: Medicare: A Seasoned Adult Conceived and Born in Sin

Uwe Reinhardt: Medicare: A Seasoned Adult Conceived and Born in Sin: “MEDICARE AND MEDICAID! We all know you had breech births and your life has been tough…

…But you made it to your 50th birthday in spite of all your handicaps, that that is an achievement! In the meantime, you have kept us in the club of civilized nations. Prior to passage of Medicare and Medicaid, close to 40% of America’s elderly were too poor to afford the then available, modern health care, as were millions of non-elderly Americans. Leading members of the WWII generation who had emerged from the Great Depression and WWII with a strong egalitarian streak sought to respond to this problem. But the providers of health care… permitted the U.S. Congress to express this egalitarian sentiment in legislation only on the condition that it surrender to them the key to the U.S. Treasury…. It was unseemly for powerful interest groups to demand from Congress the key to the nation’s Treasury. Of course, it was also clear that the promises made to these interest groups sooner or later would have to be broken–and broken it was, in the 1980s and early 1990s.It seems to come as surprise to many that in spite of these earlier, built-in handicaps imposed on Medicare, over the long run Medicare actually has been able to constrain the growth of Medicare spending per beneficiary better than… the private sector…

March 6, 2015

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