Washington, D.C. – Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the Health Program at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and a nationally recognized expert on Medicare, has written a new policy assessment of Medicare, the nation’s largest public health care program – and one of the fastest growing programs in the federal budget.
The book, Medicare: A Policy Primer, is published by the Urban Institute. It provides an overview of Medicare, examining how the program currently works, as well as recent changes – such as the prescription drug benefit, Medicare’s first major benefit expansion – and their impact on beneficiaries.
Moon, who served as a public trustee for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, examines the history of Medicare, which was created in 1965 and began enrolling beneficiaries the next year, and how the program operates in the broader context of health care, the federal government, and the economy.
Moon describes various reform options that could improve health care and generate long-term savings. According to Moon, current and future Medicare beneficiaries should be central to policy discussions, considering such factors as the high costs of health care services, as well as the modest economic resources and diversity of Medicare clients.
The future of Medicare has become a critical debate in the health policy arena. Forty-two million elderly and disabled Americans currently use Medicare services, and the challenge of improving the quality of care while curbing spending and determining financing responsibilities remains largely unresolved.
In 2005, Medicare spent $333 billion to serve its clients. Over the next decade, tens of millions of baby boomers will turn 65 and begin using their Medicare coverage, putting additional strain on the program.
Moon, the current president of the board of the Medicare Rights Center and the National Academy of Social Insurance, has previously written the first and second editions of Medicare Now and In the Future.
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is an independent, nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research on important social issues and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity.