Medicare and the Future of Retirement Security

President Bush’s failed effort to privatize part of the Social Security program received a lot of attention from the media during the first half of 2005. Congressional efforts to begin privatizing the Medicare program over the last ten years have received far less attention. This absence of media attention may be one of the reasons for the success of some of these initiatives, especially those contained in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The media have focused, to a much greater extent, on the notion that Medicare cannot be sustained in its current form as baby boomers become beneficiaries over the next 30 years; the costs will just be too great.

The media, policy makers, and the general public would benefit enormously from the facts and analytical perspectives contained in each of these three books. Yes, Medicare, like everything else in health care, is expensive and its cost will grow substantially in the years ahead. The authors of these timely books, however, do a fine job of showing that Medicare cannot be reduced to cost issues only. And they have excellent credentials for doing so. Marilyn Moon is a former Trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. Christine Cassel is President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine, following a career as one of the most distinguished geriatric physicians in the nation. And John Geyman is the former chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington and is currently editor of The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice

– The Gerontologist

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