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Medicare at 40: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges

In commemoration of Medicare’s 40th anniversary, this AARP report reviews the major achievements of the program since 1965 and identifies improvements that would ensure that Medicare remains a viable, affordable, beneficiary-focused program covering comprehensive, high quality services, while at the same time carefully stewarding program resources. Specific Medicare accomplishments that are reviewed include improving access to health coverage and services, providing greater financial security to beneficiaries, controlling program spending, and emerging as a leader in quality improvement activities. Specific challenges that are identified for the future include ensuring Medicare affordability for program beneficiaries, addressing the chronic care needs of an aging population, improving the quality of care in Medicare, ensuring the financial strength of the program, and ensuring fair competition among all Medicare coverage options. Due to its size, Medicare has the opportunity to positively influence the overall health care system as it responds to these and other challenges encountered throughout the system. (17 pages)

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