May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Explore the Staying Sharp Mental Well-Being Challenges.
The AARP Public Policy Institute focuses on issues of critical importance as we age. Below we highlight research, analysis, background and commentary on Medicare.
Find the Public Policy Institute content you are looking for by entering in search terms below.
Sign up for alerts on the latest research, events and videos on policy issues.
When it comes to catalyzing a Culture of Health in America’s communities, creative solutions are emerging to promote well-being. As a means of fostering that trend, the AARP Public Policy Institute has launched a Culture of Health initiative to champion change across America in the areas of health and well-being. Meet a group of 10 leaders who saw a challenge before them in their own communities and responded. Read
Over 9 Million Adults Ages 50 and Older Faced Food Insecurity in 2020
This fact sheet describes trends in food insecurity and selected characteristics of food-insecure adults ages 50 and older. State-level data are included in the appendix. Read
While health literacy is widely understood as a quality measure of health care decision making, another related measure calls for increased attention, particularly regarding older adults: medication literacy. Read
This fact sheet describes selected characteristics of adults ages 50 and older who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the benefits their households receive. The paper includes analysis of SNAP participants ages 50 to 59 as well as those ages 60 and older, and state-level data is included in the appendices. Read
In light of COVID-19’s devastating impact on nursing homes and other institutional care settings, more and more older adults with long-term care needs and their families are interested in home and community-based care options. This new AARP primer provides the latest data and information on HCBS, including what it encompasses, who the users and providers are, how it is financed, and several delivery models and policy solutions that states could expand to improve and expand access to these services. Read
This AARP fact sheet analyzes indicators of health care access, health-related behaviors, and health conditions among the 50 and older age group living in rural and urban areas. The analysis also explores racial and ethnic differences in health among older adults living in rural and urban areas to assess whether health disparities by racial and ethnicity are exacerbated by residence in a rural area. Read
This report examines the pre-pandemic immunization environment in nursing facilities, explores how facilities administered immunization during different periods of the pandemic, and highlights issues that states and facilities should consider as they evaluate whether and how their immunization programs can be modified or improved. Read
The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used specialty prescription drugs increased by an average of 4.8 percent between in 2020, more than three-and-a-half times faster than inflation. Read
New analysis examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health insurance coverage for older adults ages 50 to 64. Read
This paper focuses on the rapid market penetration of a novel therapeutic option for stroke prevention among patients with atrial fibrillation. The observed widespread shift in prescribing practices led to substantial increases in spending, as the new products were approximately 20 times more expensive than comparable existing products. Read
This study was designed to determine if anticholinergic use among older adults with dementia taking AChEI puts them at higher risk for adverse outcomes and concludes that it does. Older adults with dementia who had concomitant anticholinergic and AChEI use were 18 percent more likely to experience a fall, 16 percent more likely to have a fracture, and 25 percent more likely to have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than those taking AChEI alone. Read
The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail price increases for widely used brand name prescription drugs consistently exceeded the rate of general inflation between 2006 and 2020. Read
This AARP Public Policy Institute Spotlight finds that Medicare Part D is spending billions on drug prices that are increasing faster than inflation. Read
This report examines the current vaccine landscape and explores how key factors— including unfavorable attitudes toward vaccines and vaccination access and infrastructure—may limit the number of adults ages 50 and older receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Read
This report explores vaccine hesitancy among older adults, the attitudes that drive vaccine hesitancy, and the relationship between hesitancy toward the influenza vaccine and hesitancy toward COVID-19 vaccines. Read
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a real urgency to get more people vaccinated against the flu this year. But older adults, who are most at risk of serious illness and death from both COVID-19 and seasonal flu, are, in an effort to avoid the coronavirus, skipping opportunities to get their annual influenza vaccine. Read
Retail prices for widely used prescription drugs increased by an average of 4.2 percent in 2017. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 2.1 percent over the same period. Read
Trends, Differences by Race and Ethnicity, and Association with Preventive Service Use. Read
This Spotlight is based on an analysis of administrative claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. In our sample of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries ages 50 and older with breast cancer, the health care costs in the first year after diagnosis averaged $120,000. Read
Nearly half of US adults ages 65 and older – more than 23 million people -- have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Nine out of 10 people with prediabetes do not even know they have the condition, and many do not realize that prediabetes is a serious health concern that increases risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Read
Dementia medications typically provide modest, short-term benefits and therefore are not intended for long-term use. Nevertheless, findings from a new AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) report indicate that some adults with dementia remained on these drugs for as long as a decade, increasing the potential for adverse health outcomes and costing nearly $20,000. Read
This paper describes the consumer perspective on the value of telehealth and the current policy concerns with this avenue of health care delivery. This consumer perspective is provided by AARP’s Public Policy Institute on behalf of older adults and their family caregivers. Read
This Spotlight is based on an analysis of administrative claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. In our sample of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries ages 65 and older with dementia living in the community, antipsychotic (AP) use increased by 6% between 2012 and 2015, from 12.6% to 13.4%. Read
This fact sheet provides an overview of the SNAP program’s eligibility criteria and provides state-level data on benefits, household composition, and participation for SNAP households with older adults. Read
This Spotlight describes the use of low-value health care services by private plan enrollees age 50+. Read
The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2015. In 2015, retail prices for 768 brand name, generic, and specialty prescription drugs widely used by Medicare beneficiaries increased by an average of 6.4 percent. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 0.1 percent over the same period. Read
Studies have shown that socially isolated older adults are at greater risk for poor health and death than their well-connected counterparts. Now a new study—the first to examine whether social isolation also affects health care spending among older adults—finds that a lack of social contacts among older adults is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending annually. Read
Implantable devices, like cardiac pacemakers and artificial hips, are a central part of medical treatment today. As the population has aged and technology has advanced, the range of implantable devices and the number that are being inserted in people have increased dramatically. As a result, AARP’s Public Policy Institute is taking a closer look at issues related to the regulatory oversight and cost of these devices. Read
Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing public health problem, and older adults are not immune to the growing problem. This Insight on the Issues examines age-related differences in prescription drug misuse, describes various challenges unique to the older population and offers broad recommendations to address those challenges. Read
The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used specialty prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2015. In 2015, retail prices for 101 widely used specialty prescription drugs increased by an average of 9.6 percent—the highest average annual increase since at least 2006. Read
This spotlight is based on an analysis of administrative claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. We found substantial racial and ethnic differences in PSA screening and prostate cancer diagnoses between 2009 and 2014. Read
While diabetes affects Americans of all ages, older adults are disproportionately affected. In a recent analysis, we found that 23 percent of Americans ages 65 and older in 2015 reported having been diagnosed with diabetes (Table 1). The stark racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes prevalence among older adults are particularly concerning—about 20 percent of whites reported a diabetes diagnosis, compared to 35 percent of both blacks and Hispanics. Read
The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used brand name prescription drugs increased substantially faster than general inflation between 2006 and 2015, and that the difference between the rate of brand name drug price increases and the rate of general inflation has been widening. Read
This spotlight is based on an analysis of insurance claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. We found that surprisingly few women are evaluated or treated for osteoporosis following hip fractures, and these missed opportunities may leave some patients at increased risk for subsequent fractures. Read
How many people are age 85-plus in your state, and how much is this population projected to grow? Find out here: Read
This report outlines the demographics of this growing cohort and concludes with recommendations for coordinating programmatic resources to better serve it. Read
Rates of unplanned hospital readmissions following elective hip and knee replacement procedures fell markedly among the 50- to 84-year-old population between 2009 and 2013. Read
Do Medicare beneficiaries face higher out-of-pocket costs when they remain in observation status rather than being admitted as hospital inpatients? Read
The effect of Angelina Jolie’s personal story of BRCA1 mutation on testing rates among commercially insured women. Read
First in a series looking at innovative projects around the country. This report: The role of nurses in Rhode Island. Read
A national and state-level look at how Americans 50-64 underuse preventive services and face considerable health challenges. Read
How does increasing use of hospital observation services by Medicare beneficiaries impact cost and quality of care? Read
Susan Reinhard is senior vice president and director of AARP Public Policy Institute. Read her latest blogs on family caregiving, healthy living, nursing and more. Read Susan's Blogs
AARP PPI Facebook
PPI Blog: Thinking Policy
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at