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New AARP Research Finds No Silver Bullet for Fixing Medicare

Report asks key experts to comment on program’s structure and financing

Marking the 42nd anniversary of the Medicare program Monday, July 30th, AARP released new research that examines the future of Medicare through the eyes of 20 national health policy experts. "The Future of Medicare: Report on Expert Views" found no single answer to preserve Medicare for future generations, but those interviewed agreed there are several areas where Medicare can make improvements to help the program.

"This study shows there is no silver bullet to relieve the financial strain and keep Medicare strong in the long term," said AARP Public Policy Director John Rother. "We want to put every option on the table as we try to strengthen America's health care system. Studies like this one give us a chance to ask the policy experts tough questions about how we can improve Medicare and the entire health care system. Now we need to take their ideas to the policymakers so that every American can have quality, affordable health care."

Experts interviewed for the study suggested several ways to begin fixing the program. Many supported expanded chronic care coordination, including use of the "medical home" model to assist patients with multiple chronic diseases. Some recommended greater use of evidence-based medicine to ensure patients are receiving proven methods of care. Others stressed that regional spending disparities in Medicare show resources are not being used efficiently.

When asked about the rising cost of Medicare, many experts attributed increases to higher overall health care spending and spending on new medical technologies. Those interviewed recommended several sources that might be used to increase Medicare's revenue including income taxes, payroll taxes, and value added taxes.

"I am very pleased with the thoroughness and objectivity of this paper," said Mark R. Chassin, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Health Policy at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "I am proud to be associated with this effort. Research like this from AARP is critical as the country looks at the future of Medicare."

Rother added, "Change is possible, and the experts here have laid out many of the options for making the program more efficient and affordable. Now we need to look at all the issues-especially cost-to repair Medicare as the baby boomers retire."

To read the full study, go to: http://www.aarp.org/research/medicare/reform/2007_12_medicare.html.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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